Sam Canaan of Dover is training Veterans in watchmaking with a vision to offer respectful employment after service and support them in building a new career. The school, which provides free watchmaking training to the veterans, operates entirely on grants and donations from contributing partners and donors and the local county government allows them to rent the building for only $1 a year. The Veterans Watchmaker Initiative (VWI) has attracted global interest based on Sam Canaan’s determination. Seeing the good amount of work being done, Swatch Group recently donated $140,000 worth of watchmaking equipment and materials to the school.
The school currently tutors 5 of the 6 initial enrollees whereas it has 237 potential candidates on the waiting list. Each candidate is tested for patience and dexterity – two important skills required for watchmaking to determine each students compatibility with the intricacies of watchmaking. There are more than 4,000 watchmaking job opportunities for graduates in the U.S., and more than 40,000 globally, so veterans are particularly excited by this as they can find a job at any location they want and travel the world. The graduates are then ‘basically qualified’ to be called micro-machinists at the end of the 15-month course. Canaan has planned to provide more advanced classes once additional classrooms are finished being built. As space and time allow he hopes to accommodate up to 53 resident students with supporting staff with salaries as opposed to the unpaid volunteers currently at the campus.
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