For Ashton Merritt, New Community Workforce Development Center’s Ford Automotive Training Program has changed the course of his life.
In the Summer of 2015, he completed the 1,200-hour program, which is backed by Ford Motor Company, and was hired last September by FAPS Inc., a major employer at the Port of Newark.
“This has literally turned my life around,” said Merritt, 32, of Newark, who recently marked his one-year anniversary at the job. “It was great for me.”
Merritt is one of several graduates from New Community’s automotive program that was hired as a full-time laborer at FAPS, which is the abbreviation for Foreign Auto Preparation Service.
“You guys have provided us with good employees,” Julie Lynch, FAPS human resources manager, said of NCC. “They’re very diligent workers,” she added. “They want to train, they want to excel.”
At FAPS, the automotive grads work on both exported and imported vehicles, handling pre-delivery and added value services for incoming automobiles and ensuring regulatory standards and specifications for vehicles being shipped anywhere in the world, according to Lynch.
“New Community’s Ford Automotive Training Program values the partnership with FAPS, Inc.,” said Rodney Brutton, director of the Workforce Development Center. “New Community, FAPS, Inc., and the City of Newark share a common goal of providing well-paying opportunities that offer career pathways, excellent benefits packages and room for growth.”
Alturrick Kenney, director of Port Newark Operations for the City of Newark, touted the city’s partnership with NCC and FAPS and described New Community’s auto program as “the premiere program in the region.”
He said that Newark’s location as a regional transportation hub means there are many local job opportunities in the transportation, logistics and distribution industries. “We have to be able to take full advantage of that hidden jewel in our city and in the region,” Kenney said.
Reneau Saintilme, another graduate of the automotive program at New Community, began working at FAPS on September 6. Previously he worked as a bus driver and completed the auto training while working nights. “I’m glad to have this program,” said Saintilme, who noted that he enjoys working at FAPS and plans to stay until retirement.
More than 20 jobseekers have been hired at FAPS, according to Kenney. He noted that the majority have completed training at New Community.
Funders that support NCC’s training program include the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Newark Alliance/CareerWorks and the Bank of America Foundation.
For four years, Merritt was out of work because his primary responsibility was being a caretaker for his grandmother. He worried about how he would gain employable skills—until he learned about NCC.
Merritt said that gaining hands-on experience at New Community’s auto program prepared him well to work on a variety of vehicles at FAPS.
“I actually knew what I was doing off the bat,” Merritt said. “I felt that that was very on point, very helpful.”