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Alumni News

Apprenticeship Training: A Career You Can Build On

November 22, 2010

Ian Lawrence has been around a machine shop since he was a young lad when he helped out at his father’s business after school. Fast forward several decades and Ian now operates his own company and has mentored many apprentices along the way. 

A 1982 graduate of the General Machinist Apprentice program, Ian founded Murray Manufacturing in 1988, primarily as a consulting business. Since 1993, he has concentrated on growing the manufacturing side of the Brampton-based company which now has a diverse customer base of local companies mainly in the textiles, plastics and machine-building industries. 

Nine Sheridan students have apprenticed at Murray Manufacturing, including one who has been with Ian for the past 17 years. “I know the quality of the program firsthand and I have kept in touch with my professor, Alan Reid. Choosing Sheridan students is an easy decision to make,” says Ian.

Sheridan’s apprenticeship training programs are nationally recognized, featuring the most up-to-date machinery in the province and outstanding hands-on instruction by faculty with years of industry experience. Industrial Mechanic Millwright Apprentice 2010 grad, George Wall, won the gold medal at the Skills Ontario Competition and the silver medal at the Skills Canada Competition earlier this year.

People come here for all the above reasons, says Alan Reid, now Associate Dean, Apprenticeship and Skilled Trades, “but the most important reason is that we are, first and foremost, geared to students’ success, not just while they are training here but throughout their careers.”

Ian’s path to Sheridan is far from typical. In fact, there is no standard apprenticeship student profile, says Alan. Today’s apprenticeship students may want to improve their skill base for broader career options, or retrain for a better paying and more secure job, or build a foundation for an engineering degree. The program has seen students aged 17 to 58, with education ranging from high school diplomas to university degrees.

By now, most of us have heard the warnings about the growing shortage of skilled tradespeople, particularly in Ontario, thanks to fewer people entering the field and existing tradespeople retiring. Alan and his faculty work hard to promote the skilled trades as an attractive career option but the sector continues to suffer from an awareness problem. “People don’t appreciate the high level of job security and pay that skilled trades people enjoy, says Alan, “as well as the job satisfaction of working in trades ranging from basic manufacturing to the highest levels of intellectual expertise demanded by various industries including the aerospace, automotive, food and pharmaceutical sectors.” 

If you think manufacturing jobs are dead, think again. “Manufacturing is the basis for everything from cars to phones to energy, you name it,” says Alan. “The jobs of the future are here now.” 

Click here to learn more about Sheridan’s Apprenticeship programs.