Hamilton’s transportation network is a major part of the city’s unique economic advantage, with access to road, rail, marine and air modes for the movement of goods. At the Port of Hamilton alone, more than 2,100 people work in a variety of transportation-intensive industries. Jobs in these companies require a sophisticated and evolving set of skills. Employees with logistics or supply-chain capabilities are in high demand, but the path to employment in some cases can be difficult to navigate.
“We know from our conversations with our port partner companies that finding skilled workers in some cases is quite challenging,” explains Sharon Clark, Manager of Community Relations at the Hamilton Port Authority (HPA). “At the same time, we have residents in our community who are in need of the kind of stable, well-paying jobs that port employers offer. If we can help bridge the gap, we all win.”
For port-located company Fluke Transport, a qualified labour pool is a critical business success factor: “From an employer’s perspective, finding employees with the right skills can be a real challenge. We’re happy to encourage more interest in the transportation sector as a career choice. Making strong connections between school and the workplace helps position graduates for success,” said Kevin Hagen, Senior Vice President & General Manager at Fluke Transportation Group
To help close this gap between employers and potential employees, HPA and Hamilton’s Mohawk College are working together on initiatives to help students along the road to transportation careers. This year, the partners launched a new post-graduate certificate in Supply Chain Management. The program is designed to teach students about how goods flow within an organization, from raw material suppliers, to the end consumer. A new $20,000 tuition-support fund from HPA will directly assist local students enrolled in this program in the coming years. HPA is also working with port-located companies to create co-op and internship placements to complement the program.
“Building and strengthening partnerships is a priority for Mohawk. We are proud to partner with the Hamilton Port Authority to support the needs of local employers and create more opportunities for the people of Hamilton,” said Ron McKerlie, President of Mohawk College in Hamilton.
HPA is also working closely with Mohawk College’s innovative CitySchool program to create a pathway to jobs in the skilled trades. Backed by a $10,000 HPA contribution to CitySchool’s mobile classroom, CitySchool offers a free, on-site introduction to welding, an in-demand skill among Hamilton’s industrial employers. Located in Hamilton’s North End, this partnership aims to create employment connections for local residents to employers located nearby, on and off the port lands.
This partnership is in step with the goals of Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger’s Blue Ribbon Task Force, which identified the need for greater alignment between employer needs and labour force skills development . “HPA’s partnership and contribution to Mohawk College with these programs brings immediate benefits to students, while at the same time helping to feed future employment needs,” said Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “I’m proud to see one of our most vital economic engines working in tandem with an academic institution to practically create sustainable growth and new opportunities for our residents.”
For HPA, the partnership is a community initiative that leverages the port authority’s unique expertise and network. As Ian Hamilton, HPA’s President & CEO noted, “Management of the supply chain is a largely invisible yet vital function; companies that do it well can be up to 20 per cent more profitable. Through this terrific partnership with Mohawk, we’ll ensure our local workforce is ready and able to support our city’s competitive advantage in transportation and logistics. Today’s supply chain graduates have an enormous opportunity to build a career that is in demand and highly valued in Canada and globally.”