More than 15 years ago, our Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) factory in Guelph began serving as a sponsor employer of the Ontario College of Trades’ Millwright apprenticeship program.
The program, which consists of both in-school learning and on-the-job training, allows candidates to become licensed Industrial Millwrights (mechanics), an officially recognized and regulated trade in the province of Ontario, Canada.
Although not originally part of the NWNA apprenticeship program, Sam Gordon, Guelph Factory Manager, believed in the Millwright program so much that he converted three full-time Mechanic positions into apprenticeship positions. In 2014, NWNA associates Mike Ormond, Oz Sen, and Sam Ledrew became Millwright apprentices on the Guelph Technical team.
As of January 2018, and after years of hard work, all three have now completed their training and exams to become Certified Industrial Millwright Mechanics for the Guelph factory.
Read on to learn what the three graduates had to say about their experiences.
What are you most proud of from your apprenticeship experience?
Mike: I am proud of my perseverance to stick with it and achieve my goal of becoming a Millwright. Because of the hours in school, combined with the hours at work, there were many nights I went home and thought, “I don’t know if this is for me” or “I’m not sure I’m going to make it.” But I persevered and got through it.
Oz: Finishing school and passing the exam. The three-and-a-half years of studying and practicing paid off. The feeling I got completing and passing a very difficult exam was as if I was in a cloud. I was especially proud that I was able to do it while having a baby in my first year. I am thankful for all of the support from my family and the other mechanics in the shop that helped me succeed.
Sam: The experience itself. I was 41 when I started and I honestly did not know if I could do it. I wondered if I was too old. Being able to pull it off with a family at home and a busy work schedule felt amazing. Even after I had my concerns, I realized I had a different level of focus than I did when I was younger, and I did quite well in school. It is never too late. Even though I am 44 now, I still have half my career ahead of me.
What advice do you have for others considering this apprenticeship?
Mike: Give people a reason to believe you can do it. Prove to your peers that you have an understanding of what’s going on and that you have a desire to know and do more, and gain their respect.
Oz: Make sure you really want the position and understand what you are signing up for. The key things are to listen, watch, and be open to learning from others along the way.
Sam: It is never too late. Once you are in the role, just listen. I cannot emphasize this enough. Listen to the people in the shop who have the experience. Even if you think you know something already – listen. You will truly learn from them and ultimately be more successful.
How has this experience changed your life?
Mike: It’s given me opportunity and freedom to do more with my skills. I have learned a skillset that not only helps in the factory, but at home as well.
Oz: It was a big 180 change for both my family and myself. It has given me a sense of pride. My job is a different challenge every day and I find it much more exciting.
Sam: Hugely. It changed home life since it secures a better future for my family and my kids. There’s a sense of pride and accomplishment when I reflect on my work. I enjoy coming to work much more. I enjoy the challenge of troubleshooting and how every day is potentially different. I feel proud of what I do.