Getting down to work with skills training in Chilliwack

Trades training program gets provincial funding to keep moving students forward

Muni Michael Samy (left) and Donnie Isaac were two participants of the Heavy Industrial Manufacturing Training Program offered at Mussell Crane Manufacturing in Chilliwack. It was announced Thursday that the provincial government will be providing $478

Muni Michael Samy (left) and Donnie Isaac were two participants of the Heavy Industrial Manufacturing Training Program offered at Mussell Crane Manufacturing in Chilliwack. It was announced Thursday that the provincial government will be providing $478

When Donnie Isaac lost the job he thought he’d have until retirement, he didn’t let much dust settle around him.

The gutter company he was working for restructured, and “I was the one to go,” he says. Within a week, the Abbotsford man  was at his local WorkBC office, looking at his options.

They led him to the Heavy Industrial Manufacturing Training Program, based out of Mussell Crane Manufacturing in Chilliwack and UFV.

Around the same time, Muni Michael Samy was recovering from a car accident. He knew he wouldn’t be going back to his old work, and needed something to help him through rehabilitation.

“I was in a very stressful place, mentally, physically, emotionally,” he says. He also went to WorkBC, in search of a new future.

They both ended up at Mussell Crane together, and they both aced the program.

When they graduated, they landed a job together at a railing installation company. And they’ve managed to work their way up the ladder in just the few months they’ve been there.

They are just two of the success stories talked about at Mussell Crane on Thursday afternoon, at a funding announcement presentation. The program has been such a success, the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation will be funding another 36 training positions.

“The Province has provided $478,277 to support the heavy industrial manufacturing training program, which is offered in partnership with Chilliwack-based Mussell Crane Manufacturing and local employers, who joined forces after struggling to find enough skilled workers to fill available positions,” a press release says.

With the new funding, the four-month program will have graduated 72 participants by March 2017.

Graduates like Melissa Gowan, who is currently in the program to upgrade her skills. Gowan is a Canadian Registered Safety Professional, but her work has never allowed her to get hands on. Now, she’s taking the opportunity to work with every manufacturing tool possible.

“I’m telling you, if you don’t know what you want to do when you grow up, start here,” she told the crowd.

While the gathering on Thursday was officially a funding announcement, the focus of every speaker was squarely on community.

Fred Mussell, owner of Mussell Crane, said it’s an honour to be involved with the program.

“It’s kinda cool,” he said, “to launch individuals into the world for its betterment. We have such a short envelope of time that we’re here, and we should that time to make it better for everyone.”

They will be able to provide that opportunity to more people now.

Three intakes of the Heavy Industrial Manufacturing Training Program will train eight to 12 participants at a time. Each participant will receive 10 weeks of employability and occupational skills training, including classroom training at the University of the Fraser Valley, forklift and crane operator training, basic rigging, fall protection, first aid, manufacturing safety and other skills. Participants also receive instruction in employment and life skills, as well as four weeks of on-the-job work experience with local employers and two weeks of job search support as they seek full-time employment. The program takes place over a year-long period running through March 2017.

More than two dozen local employers have partnered with the heavy industrial manufacturing training program to provide work experience and hire program participants.

The program is already up and running and there are still spaces available in the session that is running from Oct. 31, 2016 to Feb. 24, 2017. Anyone who is Employment Insurance-eligible and interested in this skills training opportunity can contact their local WorkBC Employment Services Centre for more information.

MLA John Martin was at the announcement, along with representatives from the many organizations involved.

“Heavy industrial manufacturing is a key industry that keeps the Fraser Valley economy strong,” he said. “The people going through this program will develop in-demand skills and connections with local employers that will help them build a great career in the sector.”