Mentorship – How It Works

Mentorship – How It Works

Mentorship is a unique relationship between a person who is experienced in a particular trade or industry and a person who is newer to the industry.

Mentorship isn’t a replacement for formal education or training programs. Instead, it complements other types of learning and allows people who are new to the industry to gain knowledge and insight in a one-on-one, casual setting.

Mentorship gives mentees the opportunity to ask questions and receive insight that is specific to their interests, goals and ambitions.

A mentor may share with a mentee information about his or her own career path, as well as provide guidance, motivation, emotional support, and role modeling. A mentor may help with exploring careers, setting goals, developing contacts, and identifying resources.

The mentee should absorb the mentor’s knowledge and have the ambition and desire to know what to do with this knowledge. The mentee needs to practice and demonstrate what has been learned.

For both parties, mentoring should be an established interaction and dialogue where reflection is facilitated by the mentor.

In some cases, prospective mentees find a mentor through a formal network or mentorship program that pairs mentors and mentees. Formal mentoring in the workplace involves mentors and mentees meeting up for frequent face-to-face mentoring sessions over a longer period.

These programs are structured and organized by program administrators. Formal programs include ones run through professional associations such as the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers or local programs such as Organized Kaos.

However, it is common for mentorship to develop naturally when a younger industry professional meets someone more experienced in the industry. The information and wisdom that mentors provide is valuable and it does not have to cost anything for mentees to work with mentors.

Mentors offer their time and knowledge, and they enjoy the opportunity to guide people who are just beginning their careers to help them reach their goals. A mentor also receives benefits – not only do they experience more meaning in their work, they gain important skills to improve as a leader. 

Industries where mentorship is more common include manufacturing, engineering, media, and the skilled trades where during the course of the apprenticeship, an apprentice and journeyman interact in a mentor/mentee situation for several years.

In many fields, a mentoring program shows potential employees a good corporate culture. An employee or supervisor taking someone under their wing promotes a different kind of bonding and knowledge sharing. It signals a supportive environment.

This kind of employee engagement can reduce turnover, always a critical goal.


Links to Resources:

Mentorship | CMPA

Skills for Change | Mentoring for Change – Skills for Change

Mentorship Program in Toronto (GTA) – The Career Foundation

Organized Kaos – Programs

Skills Ontario

Mentorship Program (

Indigenous Mentorship Network of Ontario – Indigenous Mentorship Network of Ontario – Western University (

Scholarships and Grants | NPAAMB

Brantford Regional Indigenous Support Centre – OFIFC

Workforce Heroes: Celebrating employees & businesses

Workforce Heroes: Celebrating employees & businesses

Healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.

We start 2021 with hope that this year will be brighter than the last.

But also with pride that we are in many ways stronger for what we’ve been through.

The pandemic has had a huge impact on people’s lives, livelihood, work and job market in Brantford, Brant, Haldimand, Norfolk, Six Nations and New Credit.

2020 was a difficult year for our businesses and the workforce, with disruptive changes, from people working fewer hours, more hours or from home, to layoffs and business closures.

Not to mention the increased risk and fear that has come with conducting our work.  We recognize that every member of Grand Erie’s workforce, from front-line essential workers to those who lost work as a result of the pandemic, and everyone in between, struggled.

Some people are still coping with unemployment. Some businesses are still struggling to stay afloat.

But as difficult as 2020 was, our Grand Erie community has shown its resilience and a generosity to help each other.  That’s something to be proud of.

The Workforce Planning Board’s vision of “A skilled, resilient workforce contributing to dynamic communities and their economies” has been apt.

Workers have adapted to do their jobs differently, from wearing masks to working online. Businesses have had to be flexible, creative and resourceful, doing things differently, more virtually.

Today, as we begin a new year with fresh hope, the Workforce Planning Board celebrates just a few of the area businesses and their workforces that demonstrated resiliency and generosity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many other great examples out there. We’re telling the stories of five:

  • Apotex Pharmachem of Brantford
  • Battlefield International of Haldimand County
  • Brooks Signs of Brant County
  • Hometown Brew of Norfolk County
  • Six Nations Economic Development Corp. of Six Nations

Read all Workforce Heroes stories.

Workforce Heroes: Brooks Signs

Workforce Heroes: Brooks Signs

Things looked bleak for Brooks Signs in the spring of 2020.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Brant County company was allowed to continue to manufacture signs. But because construction wasn’t classified as an essential service at that time, the company wasn’t allowed to send workers out to install the illuminated signs at businesses who ordered them, meaning Brooks Signs wouldn’t be paid.

“Rather than close our shop and lay off our employees, our team collaborated and came up with the idea to pivot our focus, leverage our fabrication skillset, and address the threat to our community,” recalls President Jason Schwandt.

The idea Brooks Signs pivoted to was manufacturing plexiglass barriers.

The Workforce Planning Board is celebrating Brooks Signs as one of the local businesses whose employees are Workforce Heroes.

The company purchased four plastic bending machines, trained their employees on them, sourced raw material, and started making the shields used in grocery stores, schools, doctor’s offices and local businesses.

“The revenue from these products was sufficient to carry us through that challenging time and resulted in us not having to lay off any of our team,” said Schwandt. “At the same time, it was reassuring to know that our products were being used in the local community to help prevent the spread of the COVID virus.”

Schwandt, who purchased the business with a partner just months before the pandemic, was impressed by the resourcefulness and adaptability of his employees.

“It was exciting to see people get behind what we were doing and see how passionate they were about working together for a common cause.”

It took a lot of practice, trial and error, for workers to get the plexiglass shields just right using machines they had never used before. With a global supply shortage, raw material was scarce and, at one point, material was even sourced on Kijiji.

Brooks Signs started off making customized plexiglass barriers, before moving to some producing several standardized designs based on customer demand. The company ran a giveaway promotion, inviting businesses to say why they could use the shields. Three businesses with the best responses were given free barriers.

“Going through this exercise gave me great confidence in the resilience, resourcefulness, and capabilities of our team here at Brooks Signs, and this experience will only make us stronger as a business,” Schwandt said.

Visit Brooks Sign’s website to learn more about the company.

Read all Workforce Heroes stories.

Workforce Heroes: Battlefield International

Workforce Heroes: Battlefield International

When there were dire warnings last year about a potential shortage of ventilators to treat Canadians with COVID-19, Battlefield International’s employees rose to the challenge.

Highly skilled staff at the Haldimand County high-tech aerospace company volunteered their time to produce a Manual Ventilator Automation Control (MVAC) device in a matter of weeks.

The Workforce Planning Board is celebrating Battlefield International as one of the local businesses whose employees are Workforce Heroes.

The MVAC would allow patients recovering from COVID-19 to get assistance to breathe properly while still having some “manual” control of the machine. The machine switches to automatic mode if a patient doesn’t take a breath within a set amount of time.

“Our employees were all eager to sacrifice their personal lives to do whatever was required of them to help,” said President Steve Fenton.

The parent of one of the firm’s designers, Sandy Vermeulen, suggested Battlefield consider designing a ventilator that could be used if hospitals ran short.

Meanwhile, Dr Shanker Nesathurai, Haldimand-Norfolk’s Medical Officer of Health, approached Fenton to discuss the same idea.

Battlefield workers, with Cam Brouwer taking the design lead, quickly got to work, researching manual devices with an automatic function.

Dr. Nesathurai put Battlefield in touch with respiratory therapists at Hamilton Health Sciences, who visited the firm’s Cayuga plant to share their expertise.

The respiratory therapists gave Battlefield several ventilators to study, along with tubing and other needed supplies.

Battlefield had a functioning prototype ready within 38 hours. More refinements were made. Needing help with the delicate wiring, Battlefield turned to Mike Montgomery of Alectra Utilities, who paid him while working on the project, and Adam Harrison, owner of AMCorp Technologies of Caledonia.
Soon after, Battlefield manufactured 100 of the MVACs, which were ready to be deployed for emergency use in health care facilities in Haldimand-Norfolk and Hamilton.

Fenton emphasizes that the ventilator was a team effort, including suppliers who stepped up: Cayuga Cabinets in Cayuga, Barlow Manufacturing in Stoney Creek, Aluminum Surface Technologies in Burlington, and IPEC Automation in Concord.

In all, the ventilator took 8 weeks to go from an idea to a completed machine.

The ventilators weren’t needed during COVID-19’s first wave and Fenton hopes they won’t be in future.

Visit Battlefield International’s website to learn more about the company.

Read all Workforce Heroes stories.



Workforce Heroes: Six Nations Economic Development Corp.

Workforce Heroes: Six Nations Economic Development Corp.


When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, the Six Nations of the Grand River Economic Development Corporation drew on its philosophy of community caring and support to help.

The Workforce Planning Board is celebrating the business for their employees being Workforce Heroes.

The corporation’s trust arm, Six Nations Economic Development Trust, created the Emergency Relief Fund to help the community’s on-reserve non-profit organizations purchase Personal Protective Equipment.

Five non-profits shared in $4,500 to buy face coverings, hand sanitizer, gloves, plexiglass barriers and cleaning supplies – supplies they could ill afford otherwise. The Trust invited applications for a second round of funding in December.

“As a community owned development corporation, it is our responsibility to assist where we can, especially during times of uncertainty,” said President/CEO Matt Jamieson.

The corporation is involved in the community in numerous ways, including managing Six Nations’ economic interests, being a partner in renewable energy projects, and operating tourism assets, a business park and bingo halls, and more.

To help, the corporation:

·         Sourced PPE, including 10,000 N95 masks for Six Nations Emergency Service use

·         Converted Chiefswood park into a temporary care facility

·         Offered rent cuts to tenants in its Oneida Business Park

·         The Six Nations Bingo Hall made donations to the local food bank

·         And staff assisted the elected band council with crisis management, including running the local COVID-19 hotline.

A large team of staff working from home used their community spirit, work skills and creativity to help Six Nations tackle the ever-changing, fast-moving crisis.

“We’ve always known our employees were team players, but seeing them pull together during this difficult time was inspiring,” Jamieson said. “They were continuously adapting to the ‘new norms’ and encouraging each other.”

The corporation’s mission for the community include improving social conditions and creating an environment for individuals, families and businesses to thrive. Employees are grateful they’ve been able to deliver on those important goals and give back to the community, Jamieson said.

“COVID-19 has put a strain on individuals and businesses. It is very important to us that we help assist the community through this unprecedented time.”

Visit Six Nations Economic Development Corp.’s website to learn more about the organization.

Read all Workforce Heroes stories.

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