5 min read
06 July 2023

Transforming lives: How WoodGreen’s CNC/Precision Machining Program helped participants find success in the skilled trades

Celine Hong, Outreach Coordinator, Workforce Development

David Hamilton wasn’t expecting to switch careers, however, working remotely as a software developer during the pandemic was isolating and fraught with new challenges. It seemed like a good time to try using code to build things in the real world.

As a highly trained individual with a strong background in web app development and coding, David looked for opportunities where they combine their interests in technology, working with their hands, and not working from home. That’s when they found WoodGreen’s CNC / Precision Machining Skills Training Program.

“I can't imagine another program that would so quickly enable someone to become employable and productive in the workplace,” they said.

WoodGreen offers specialized skills training in high-demand trades


In the past few years, there’s been a decline in people working in the skilled trades industry. According to Jill Dunlop, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, 200,000 to 250,000 trades jobs in Ontario are sitting empty because there are not enough people with the skills to fill them.

In spite of this, WoodGreen has been stepping in to address skilled trades shortages in high-demand trades by offering a variety of skills training programs targeted at newcomers and jobseekers.

One of them is the CNC / Precision Machining skills training program, which WoodGreen offers in partnership with George Brown College. The program started in 2022 and is running again this year. It is open to anyone who is 18 years of age or older and legally entitled to work in Ontario. There is no cost to participate in the program.

Emi Ikponmwen decided to join the program last year to help her to pursue a career path in skilled trades and increase her chances to find work, particularly when coming out of the pandemic.

“I applied to the program because I wanted to challenge myself by doing something totally unexpected,” Emi says.

Pursuing a path in skilled trades became a transformative experience for David and Emi.

“I had always enjoyed working with my hands and building things, so I decided to give machining a try,” David says.

David’s determination to register for the program led them to successfully pass the ESOT assessment (a.k.a. the online Essential Skills for Ontario Trades Assessment) and participate in the training program. It is an assessment that is required for entry into the skilled trades industry, and certainly in CNC / Precision Machining, which assesses participants’ Ontario Grade 12 Math and English (or equivalent) skills.

How Social Support and Financial Assistance Can Help You Achieve Your Goals


What sets the CNC/Precision Machining program apart is that it not only offers skills training experience to participants, but it also provides social support through networking and teambuilding opportunities, as well as financial assistance.

“My experience was exciting and challenging, as with learning anything new. I was in a group where we all supported each other,” says Emi. “The instructors were kind, understanding and supportive. The challenging part was learning things at a very fast pace and having to keep up with assignments, quizzes and exams.”

Tuition fees and expenses for George Brown College’s CNC/Precision Machining Skills Training can value up to a total of $7,237, which includes textbooks, a toolkit, safety equipment, and a tech fee.

Pursuing a full-time training program like this can be hard when you’re facing financial challenges like David. That is why WoodGreen and George Brown College joined forces to remove those barriers so that participants are equipped with transportation supports, such as providing TTC tickets or mileage coverage, clothing, and safety equipment to complete their training.

“The program provided by WoodGreen at George Brown College was like an intensive boot camp with amazing support and encouragement from staff and peers,” said David. “From day one when you get into the program, you get the tools you need which is incredible. You also get work boots and these amazing pieces of equipment to use throughout the entire course, and through your career.”.

Participants also get a chance to hear from experts within the field by attending guest lectures to learn more about the experiences and successes of individuals working in trades.

Get Ahead in Your Career with Professional Coaching Services


Aside from training with George Brown College, participants also benefit from the program by having one-on-one career advisement with WoodGreen’s job coaches. They also obtain Ontario post-secondary credits and receive a George Brown College certificate, which is an added bonus to their qualifications.

“Even before finishing the program, I had received an offer to work at a local metal fabrication shop. Now that I'm gainfully employed in machining, I'm able to work alongside people who've been in the field for years and gain their respect,” said David.

To make sure that participants feel supported and welcomed in the skilled trades industry, WoodGreen and George Brown have partnered with employers who are committed to making the trades a friendlier and more inclusive environment – a key factor to get more individuals ranging from newcomers to women, trans or non-binary individuals to join the trades.

Emi is currently employed at S & C Electric Company in Ontario which specializes in controlling electric power systems and providing innovative energy solutions to homes and businesses.

David now works in a small machine shop known as CMP (Canadian Concrete Block Mold and Machinery Parts ltd) in Mississauga where they do moulds for brick-making machines, and enjoys using their background in programming to help people understand the programming elements involved within CNC machines.


For more information about the CNC / Precision Machining skills training program, you can visit our program webpage here.

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