by Stephanie Seaver
Brinston has been home to Advanced Grain Handling Systems (AGHS): grain storage, fabrication, electrical and millwrighting services for the past twelve years. They service the Eastern part of Ontario, while their office in Brantford services the Southwestern area.
What started as an apprenticeship program at AGHS, began to grow this year to include a co-op placement program for students from the local high school. Ian Streight, Operations Manager, says it has always been a struggle to find employees who have experience in the agriculture sector, especially those who are familiar with grain handling. “Sometimes it’s easier to just start from the ground up with these kids,” says Ian. This means taking those who have an interest in these trades, pairing them up with a skilled employee, and showing them the business with hands-on practice.
Currently, co-op students Colton Plumley and Donovan McNeilly are on board. One has aspirations of being a mill wright and the other, an electrician. What better way to gain experience in the field than working hands-on with some professionals?
Both students are learning how to weld and are shown how to use all of the equipment in the fabrication shop located at the back of the AGHS office. Both would like to stay on after they graduate and Ian says the company is one hundred percent interested in offering an apprenticeship to them, which would lead to employment.
AGHS currently employs approximately fifty people, but will grow closer to seventy five as the busy season approaches. Co-op students are lucky to be a part of such a welcoming, knowledgeable team, with so many opportunities to learn, directly at their fingertips.
Ian says they are open to other schools in the area sending students over to join this co-op placement program. They want to support local and give as many opportunities as possible for local kids to get their foot in the door to start learning trades and the agricultural business. Co-op placements generally last for one semester, but if their school allows for longer, Ian says they are open to keeping the students on for an extended time.