City School, Indwell gather for new SkillsAdvance Ontario training program

Published in Momentum Fall 2021

Together with affordable housing provider Indwell, Mohawk College is offering a unique, free program aimed at training people for culinary and environmental services jobs in hospitals, long-term care homes and other institutional settings. 

Mohawk’s City School participants learn to cook in a working kitchen at an Indwell facility in the morning and are trained in cleaning, sanitation and health and safety in the afternoon over an eight-week period. That is followed by a paid work placement at an employer partner—Compass One Healthcare and Thrive Group.  

Employers are heavily involved in the development of the programming, says Michael Campbell, a Training Specialist at Mohawk who leads the project. 

The roots of the initiative are in Indwell’s Gather Culinary Academy, which leveraged the kitchens that provide food to residents into training facilities.  

“This is a unique job-skills training program for people living in poverty. We are seeing many lives transformed, leading to flourishing families and communities,” said Hannah Pahuta, Manager of Commercial and Social Enterprises at Indwell. 

“Our partnership with Mohawk College’s City School and Workforce Partnerships is an alignment that deepens our shared commitment to serve vulnerable populations in support of healthy community outcomes.” 

The first group has completed its training and the second is set to begin. 

“It’s really a remarkable experience for low-income and vulnerable people,” said Campbell. “They become like a family and they are so supportive of each other. There is a profound transformation in confidence for many of them.” 

One participant wrote that the program had been “a blessing.” 

“To me, I will always be grateful for this chance for a better future.” 

Another, who had been out of the workforce for four years, wrote that the program “has given me back my energy, a routine, a sense of purpose and has helped me personally in many ways.” 

SkillsAdvance Ontario supports training for specific jobs in which there is a workforce shortage for people who are unemployed, underemployed or on social assistance and not in school. The Employment Ontario program is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. 

Photo caption: Mohawk College Training Specialist Michael Campbell, and Indwell Manager of Commercial and Social Enterprises Hannah Pahuta