With labor shortages occurring across the country, employers are finding new ways to hire and retain their employees.
A new public works apprenticeship program was launched after a few years of planning. In an effort to hire more entry-level workers and attract younger employees, apprenticeship will be a full-time, paid experience for candidates.
The apprenticeship will employ three candidates for a two to three year programme.
“All the details are not settled, but the concept is that it would be a two or three year program. There are three divisions that individuals would work in and they would rotate between each of the divisions,” said Shawn Blaney, Director of Public Works.
The three public works divisions perform different tasks depending on the time of year. The apprenticeship would allow those hired to experience each of these divisions during the different seasons.
“We think the schedule would be a one month or two month rotation for each division. After a few years, they went through every division and saw all four seasons,” Blaney said.
Discussions introducing the apprenticeship program began in 2021 and were brought to the staff committee for the 2022 budget. The program was officially fully funded in July this year.
“After some internal discussions within public works and once we approved the concept, we presented it to the staff committee. They were very interested in the program and were supportive of the program and from there it was put into the 2022 budget and approved by the full board,” Blaney said.
The need for a program like this became apparent when Public Works had difficulty attracting young candidates for positions.
“The idea came from the public works managers, we were frustrated at not being able to attract young candidates. We’re always looking to hire people with commercial driver’s licenses and experience operating heavy equipment, not everyone does,” he said.
Public Works has no shortage of young people who take on seasonal jobs in the summer and they hope to give some of these employees the opportunity to learn more about the different divisions of Public Works.
“Virtually every year there are seasonal staff who want to be full-time employees who would make great full-time employees, but they don’t meet all of the minimum qualifications, primarily a commercial driver’s license,” said said Blaney.
Due to the difficulty of hiring candidates, re-learning is one way to alleviate the problem.
Public Works hopes to teach these potential candidates the knowledge needed for the jobs through the apprenticeship program.
“Public Works is full of talented, versatile people who have a tremendous amount of knowledge to pass on to a new employee if they get the chance,” said Blaney.
“Having a program like this will allow us to provide an opportunity for someone who wants to work in this field but hasn’t had the chance to gain the necessary experience,” he said. he continued.
Currently, the program is working on the next steps to recruit and hire people to fill the positions.
“We are not quite ready to hire yet. Our human resources department is very busy filling public safety positions before we can focus on hiring for these positions. They are working on it and will begin the next steps in the near future,” Blaney said.
The program will be open to anyone looking for an entry-level position and the apprenticeship program is paid and benefits. The hiring process will begin in the coming months.