New Fanshawe College partnership connecting military-connected students with trade jobs

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: FANSHAWE COLLEGE
Fanshawe College has partnered with Helmets to Hardhats to help connect military students to the trades.

On Feb. 22, Fanshawe College announced that it would be partnering with the non-profit organization, Helmets to Hardhats (H2H). The new partnership aims to help military-connected Fanshawe students find high skilled trade job opportunities.

H2H has been helping veterans in Canada find jobs since 2012. Fanshawe has been actively working to cement its place as a military-connected college, by helping students transition from service life to civilian life

Fanshawe is the first college in Canada to partner with H2H. Fanshawe’s Director of Employment and Student Entrepreneurial Services, Darlene O’Neill said the partnership just made sense.

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“[H2H] have really strong employer relations, much like we do, but different ones,” she said. “And so they are able to place the military-connected people in those positions at either a level one, level two, level three or journeyperson apprentice based on their academic experience, plus through military experience.”.

O’Neill further explained the struggles faced by those transitioning away from military life into college life.

“Post-secondary is very individualistic, you’re there on your path,” explained O’Neill. “Your goal is in employment, future employment. And so some of the challenges they face is, they feel that they’re not part of the college community. Sometimes they feel isolated. Oftentimes, they have a sense of anxiety around returning to learning, particularly if they’ve been in leadership roles. And all of a sudden now they’re in a student role, which is a little different.”

Fanshawe’s shift to becoming a military-connected college seeks to ease that transition by providing supports to military-connected students. The partnership with H2H is yet another way that Fanshawe is striving to help transfer military skills to high skilled trade positions.

But the partnership is helping more than just students.

“The skilled trades are in very high demand,” said O’Neill. “And a lot of people are not pursuing the skilled trades anymore. So it’s going to rejuvenate the skilled trades, it’s going to help with those labour gaps and help the industry itself rebuild.”

Students across various programs will be able to take advantage of the resources provided by H2H. O’Neill said H2H focuses primarily on connecting students to apprenticeships and journeyperson roles. That extends to students in property management and engineering. What’s more, the partnership even extends to students in the culinary arts. At first, O’Neill wasn’t sure if the program would be included, but upon further research, she was pleased to find that one of H2H’s employers does connect with culinary arts students.

“If you go to the oil sands, there’s camps there,” she explained. “And they hire culinary people. So absolutely. And Suncor is one of the employers they deal with.”

Fanshawe’s commitment to being a military-connected college has only been amplified by this latest partnership. O’Neill feels confident that the partnership with H2H will be a powerful steppingstone in helping military-connected students get to work.

“There’s so many opportunities that are going to be open for our students,” said O’Neill. “And we’re really excited about it. And I just think it’s a fantastic partnership.”