Securing a Better Future
George Brown certificate leads to stability in a new role
Matt Zywot had already been working as a printing press operator and, later, a press room manager for a number of years when he first saw changes on the horizon: The printing industry was changing fast, fueled by developments in technology and greater environmental awareness with regard to paper products.
"It was a little disheartening," Matt recalls. "There were fewer jobs, and the jobs were paying a lot less. I saw it as a game of musical chairs. It was simple – eventually there would be no chair for me."
Luckily, Matt's experience had exposed him to other roles that could offer greater stability and financial security. As a press operator, he had done regular maintenance on his own machine. But Matt had always admired the service mechanics he worked with when a problem wasn't something he could resolve himself. He realized that, no matter how automated machines became, there would still be a need for skilled mechanics and technicians to repair and maintain them.
Although he had some maintenance experience, Matt knew he needed to develop a more comprehensive understanding before transitioning into a whole new career. He couldn't afford to quit his job to go back to school, so Continuing Education classes were the perfect solution.
"I picked George Brown College for a couple of reasons," he remembers. "The location is great – not too far east or too far west. And, since George Brown has been producing successful tradespeople for many many years, it's a name that tradespeople know and respect."
In 2009, Matt began taking classes toward the Mechanical Maintenance Certificate. The compulsory courses gave him a critical foundation in mechanical maintenance while the electives allowed him to focus on certain topics. For his three electives, Matt chose to complete Welding Theory, Welding I and Electrical Construction and Maintenance I.
"I had a great experience," he says. "The class sizes were relatively small, and the teachers were all knowledgeable."
In February 2012, just as he was completing the requirements for the certificate, Matt changed employers and started working as an industrial maintenance mechanic at a food processing plant.
"I think that having the Mechanical Maintenance Certificate on my resumé made employers see me not only as someone trying to change careers but as someone who is serious about what they want to do," he says.
But the training Matt received didn't just get his foot in the door.
"I use what I learned every day," he says. "I weld at least once every couple of weeks and regularly work with hydraulics, pneumatics and many of the machines we studied in school. But you can't predict or prevent everything. You also have to be able to troubleshoot issues and do it with some degree of accuracy, which is definitely a skill that George Brown helped me develop."
Matt's education has not only given him an advantage in the industry but benefited his employer as well.
"At George Brown, I learned a lot about machine organization and design: the anatomy of different machine parts, the way you put the pieces together and the way you align them. Some people don't think about some of the things we learned at George Brown, but getting it done right saves your company money."
Looking back, Matt considers himself lucky to have found a second career he enjoys. And he acknowledges that George Brown College helped him turn his plan into a reality.
"I would definitely recommend the Mechanical Maintenance Certificate to others. It made me appealing as an apprenticeship candidate because of the renown that comes with the name George Brown College."