The Valiant Training and Development Centre is getting an international manufacturing award in Detroit today for a unique training program it offers.
Valiant offers the Earn While You Learn program. Students get paid to learn skilled trades.
The company believes it should serve as the model for the way skilled trades training be developed in the province.
Len Solcz, the president of the company, says the program teaches students the skills they need for a career in the skilled trades.
Solcz says students shouldn't have to languish for four years in apprenticeship programs which are mandated now.
"We no longer have to send a kid to a four-year apprenticeship program because they don't want to go there that long. They want to get into the workforce as early as possible and this does it," he said.
The program has been around for five years and has graduated 140 students. Many of them came from dead end jobs, Solcz said.
Tasha Mason, 23, is a single mother of two young children. She was drifting from one part-time job to another until her dad, who works for Valiant, told her about the program at the Valiant Training and Development Centre
She started learning in January. Since then, she's even has trained some of her fellow students.
Many are high school grads, but others, like Tasha, are getting a new fresh start on life.
"I love coming here every single day. I wake up excited for work. It means that me and my boys have a future. It means that I have a career," Mason said.
Mike Ouellette is the training coordinator.
"I think the unique win for this program is that we're paying the students $12 an hour to start; full benefits, pension plan, safety boots, safety glasses," Ouellette said.
Valiant wants the province to accredit this program so the students can get a certificate they can use elsewhere and also to shorten their apprenticeship training time.
There is a waiting list for the program, but Valiant wants the province to help expand this to other cities and other companies.