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2008 Minister's Apprenticeship Employer Recognition Awards

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2008 Minister's Apprenticeship Employer Recognition Awards

Ministry of Colleges and Universities

Each year, the government honours four employers for their exceptional commitment to apprenticeship training in Ontario. The recipients are chosen by a provincial selection committee from a pool of 16 regional finalists. Recipients of the 2008 Minister's Apprenticeship Employer Recognition Awards are:

Breaker Technology, Ltd., Thornbury

Thornbury's Breaker Technology, Ltd. (BTI) is breaking down barriers to attract more men and women to the trades.

Now in its 50 th year, the company manufactures and distributes systems and equipment for the mining, construction, aggregate and demolition industries. It began training apprentices in the 1980s, including machinists, electricians, millwrights, heavy equipment mechanics and welders.

Today, 20 of its 75 shop employees either completed their training with the company or are current apprentices. Some former apprentices have been with the company for more than 25 years.

What inspires that kind of loyalty? Giving apprentices a chance and taking the extra step to help them succeed.

The company actively supports Job Connect and the co-op program at Georgian Bay Secondary School. The company pays apprentices during their in-school training and covers their books and tuition. It gives them regular raises as their training progresses and annually presents cash awards to the top two graduating apprentices at Georgian College.

What's more, for the first woman to join the shop - as an apprentice machinist - BTI built a separate change room and washroom. The young woman went on to earn top marks at Georgian College and is now set to write the Ontario Certificate of Qualification.

"In the late 1990s, our company foresaw a local shortage of skilled tradespersons. We began strengthening our relationships with key partners like Georgian Bay Secondary School, Georgian College, YMCA Community Employment Services, and the training consultants with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. These partnerships enabled us to develop the people we need for our company to progress and grow," says Brad Forrest, BTI's manager of human resources.

Cakes By Tatiana, Ottawa

Award-winning pastry chef Tatiana Vorobej has been making life sweeter both for customers and aspiring young bakers in the Ottawa area for 20 years.

Until she sold her business in February, Cakes by Tatiana was renowned as a top-notch, artisan bakery where everything was made from scratch.

A former apprentice herself, and a certified Red Seal baker-patissier, Tatiana enjoys giving back by training others. The creative atmosphere in her shop appealed to baker-patissier and baker apprentices. Tatiana provided them with both practical and theoretical training. She also prepared her students for the workplace by helping them develop problem solving skills and positive work attitudes.

A committed Ontario Youth Apprentice Program and co-op sponsor, Tatiana welcomed two to four co-op students per year for the past six years, and has registered seven apprentices since 2005. Tatiana enthusiastically promotes her trade to community groups, the media and at school career days. She even developed a summer camp for youth where she provided some elementary pastry training.

Tatiana has hired employees through Job Connect - some without experience in the trade. She has also mentored students at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute in Ottawa, where she has been a guest instructor and official judge since 1989.

In 2006, Tatiana was appointed to the provincial Baker and Baker-Patissier Industry Committee, which she now chairs. She also served as one of Ontario's representatives helping develop the National Red Seal Exams for Baker/Patissier.

Tatiana may have left the shop behind, but she'll still be working to support apprentices in her trade. She says, "I'm proof this system works. Mine was the first class at Algonquin College to graduate in this trade in the '80s. I travelled all over the world and came back and opened my business. The apprenticeship system allowed me to have a career, not just a job."

Domtar Corporation - Dryden Mill, Dryden

When times get tough, companies need to make changes to remain competitive. As part of its strategy, Domtar's Dryden mill and the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) Local 105 members focused on creating a highly skilled and flexible workforce.

They have been training apprentices since 1972. Employees have participated in skills competitions, career fairs and high school trades information sessions. Domtar works closely with the local school board and Skills Canada to raise awareness of the trades, and several staff members have sat on advisory committees with Confederation College.

Business has been challenging for the forestry industry, and as far back as 2004, the survival of the Dryden Mill was at stake. It has since undertaken many initiatives to restore its competitiveness, including a two-trade maintenance program.

This program enables tradespersons to become trained and certified in two other trades in addition to their current trade. The company assessed employees' skills and where necessary, provided academic upgrading to prepare them for apprenticeship training.

Domtar and CEP Local 105, in partnership with Confederation College of Applied Arts and Technology, invested in the development of a Trades Training Centre on Domtar's property supported by. The company has also made it available for other training, including the Aboriginal Women in Skilled Trades Program and pre-apprenticeship carpentry and electrical programs

To date, 92 apprentices have enrolled in the program. They are getting marketable, portable qualifications - creating a higher skilled and flexible workforce.

"It is amazing how our employees have responded to the apprenticeship training. It is apparent that many are very proud of what they are achieving and it is very rewarding to be a part of that," says Doug Minor, Maintenance and Engineering Manager at the Dryden facility.

Hamill Machine Company Inc., Niagara Falls

Ever since Bob and Gaye Benner bought Hamill Machine Company 10 years ago, they have been helping people in Niagara Falls begin - and further - their careers.

Starting at the secondary school level, Hamill Machine is an Ontario Youth Apprentice Program supporter and regularly welcomes co-op students from both local school boards. The company also sponsors an annual scholarship through Westlane Secondary School for youth entering the industrial trades.

Hamill Machine supports Job Connect, too. To date, the company has registered 15 Job Connect participants as apprentices. All started in general labour positions, and 11 are now journeypersons. The Benners look beyond participants' existing qualifications to see their potential and passion for the trade. They help people who are willing to meet the necessary academic requirements through the Apprenticeship Scholarship and Employer Signing Bonus program.

Bob is a member of the Niagara College Advisory Committee that advises on curriculum development for the industrial programs offered at the College. Gaye, a former elementary school teacher, enjoys the enthusiasm and energy that the young people add to the workplace.

The Benners also help keep skilled tradesmen in the area. Two years ago when a local employer announced it would be closing, they hired four of its machinists as soon as the plant closed down. More recently, when another company announced layoffs, they brought two of that plant's journeymen into the shop.

"In my experience, once journeymen are laid off they are forced to leave the area. I don't like to see this happen," says Bob.

What keeps them motivated about apprenticeship? The Benners say, "We enjoy watching inexperienced young people become skilled tradesmen with good paying jobs, buying houses, starting families, being part of the community."

Regional Finalists

The Ontario government also recognizes the following 12 regional finalists for their leadership in apprenticeship training:

C & T Tool and Machine Inc. Peterborough
Clare's Cycle & Sports Ltd. Fenwick
Four-O-One Electric Ltd. Brockville
Gem Campbell Terrazzo & Tile Inc. Toronto
Intercity Fleet Auto Centre Thunder Bay
Landscapes By Lucin Toronto
MacLean Engineering & Marketing Co. Limited Collingwood
Malmberg Truck Trailer Equipment Ltd. Ottawa
Mattina Mechanical Limited Hamilton
Metal Fab North Bay
Nurse Chevrolet Cadillac Ltd. Whitby
Phase 4 Electrical Contractors Ltd. Sault Ste. Marie

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