The Journey In Apprenticeship, with Jamie Hitchcock | St. Clair College
Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Jamie and College staff in shop

Jamie Hitchcock, a 3rd-year apprentice in the General Machinist program at St. Clair College, is making waves in the traditionally male-dominated field of skilled trades. Her remarkable journey serves as a testament to dedication, passion, and resilience, as she defies stereotypes and pursues her dreams.

Introduced to the world of trades at a young age, Hitchcock's passion for the tool and die industry ignited a fire within her. From her beginnings as an Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) student at just 16 years old, she has since risen to become a level 3 apprentice, breaking barriers and seizing opportunities along the way.

"My journey started off at a young age of 16 from starting as an OYAP student exploring career opportunities for myself in the trade. It just happened that the tool and die industry sparked my interest and I am now a level 3 general machinist student pursuing to get my red seal. The trade has brought me a job I love and endless opportunities into my life from the day I started," Hitchcock said.

Hitchcock's journey has been one of continuous learning and growth, marked by her willingness to explore new pathways and expand her skill set. From mastering manual machines to delving into mold making, her curiosity and determination have propelled her forward, paving the way for a future in engineering.

"I started off in the tool room learning how to operate manual machines such as bridgeports, lathes, grinders etc. I got to further advance into a mold making position. As a mold maker I quickly gained a whole new skillset. I was learning how molds operated and were assembled," Hitchcock said. "During my career as a mold maker, I was given the chance to explore a new path in engineering. After receiving this information, I was so excited to be given the chance to further develop my knowledge in the industry and use the experience I had in a new way." She continued.

Despite the challenges posed by a male-dominated industry, Hitchcock's commitment to her craft and her exemplary work ethic have not gone unnoticed. Recently promoted at Crest Mold Tech in Windsor, Ontario, her success serves as a beacon of hope for aspiring tradespeople everywhere.

Although Skill Trades is traditionally a male-dominated field globally, students like Jamie are continually breaching that age-old belief. Her commitment and perpetual resilience in the industry are factors that enhance her skillset and position in trades; her worth ethic at Crest Mold Tech of Windsor Ontario reveals just that. Mentors like that of Instructor in the School Of Skilled Trades, Gary Steed, have been human catalyst to her journey. His support has catapulted the holistic student experience in apprenticeship and Hitchcock's case serves as testament.

She attributes much of her success to the comprehensive education and practical assistance she received in the general machinist program.

"Being able to utilize my skills and experience as an apprentice has been a great asset to my current job. When I have to visualize and create a mold base, many things go into consideration. Having the experience, I can create new ideas and solve problems with the knowledge I've gained." Hitchcock explained.

Reflecting on her experiences, Hitchcock emphasizes the importance of apprenticeship in shaping her professional identity. Her journey from an apprentice to an engineer has been marked by growth, learning, and the pursuit of excellence.

"The general machinist program has taught me to read blueprints and know the different heat treatments and characteristics of metal, which is needed for my daily job. As a general machinist apprentice, learning key subjects in school was crucial to be able to perform tasks with the base knowledge needed. get to transfer the skills and experience I've had as a floor worker into my job as an engineer. The experience as a mold maker/machinist has drastically given me an advantage starting this new career path," Hitchcock reflected.

As she looks towards the future, Hitchcock is determined to continue breaking barriers and inspiring others to pursue their passions in the skilled trades. Her ultimate goal of becoming an Engineering Manager reflects her unwavering dedication to personal and professional development. She acknowledges its profound influence in shaping her present self. Over the past four years, she has undergone significant personal and professional growth, accumulating invaluable lessons along the way. While she recognizes the evolving landscape of Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs as facilitators of professional work, she underscores the pivotal role of her apprenticeship as the cornerstone of her knowledge and performance in her role.

St. Clair College's Apprenticeship programs offer a diverse range of opportunities for aspiring tradespeople, providing the tools and resources needed to succeed in an ever-evolving industry. For those interested in following in her footsteps, there are apprenticeship programs like Automotive Service Technician, Brick & Stone Mason, Electrician: Construction & Maintenance, Electrician: Construction & Maintenance, General Carpentry, Plumber, Electrician: Construction & Maintenance, Industrial Electrician, General Machinist, Mould Maker, Tool & Die Maker, Industrial Mechanical Millwright, Truck & Coach Technician, Cook Branch 2 and Hairstylist. These programs are available at the Main Campus, Windsor, some of which are delivered on a part-time basis.

Learn more about apprenticeship opportunities and start your journey today at St. Clair College.

Story written by Jahphia Appleby.