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Ontario manufacturing industries team up to address critical skills shortage

Four manufacturing organizations have banded together to hire and train unemployed/underemployed youth in a bid to address a critical shortage of CNC machinists in Ontario.


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November 19, 2014 by Canadian Plastics

Four manufacturing organizations have banded together to hire and train unemployed/underemployed youth in a bid to address a critical shortage of CNC machinists in Ontario.

Called the Ontario Manufacturing Learning Consortium (OMLC), the organization was formed by the Ontario Aerospace Council, the Canadian Tooling & Machining Association, the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries, and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

The OMLC has already launched an industry-led hiring and training initiative called the CNC Machinist (Level 1) Selection and Learning Program, and the Ontario government has selected this program for funding under the Youth Skills Connections Program.

“We decided to tackle our skills shortage issue by reaching out to youth who are facing a stubbornly high unemployment rate in Ontario, hire and train them for a much needed position, while also helping them to start a career,” Rod Jones, program co-director of the OMLC, said in a statement. “Several Ontario hi-tech and advanced manufacturing sectors are growing and need to hire in order to support increasing production as well as replacing retirees.”

The OMLC also has partnered with organizations, such as the City of Toronto Employment and Social Services, to reach out to youth, aged 18-29, to tell them about the opportunities to become a CNC machinist by participating in a 26-week “earn-while-you-learn” employment and training program that can lead to full time employment. Manpower Group is the OMLC partner that carries out the initial screening of youth, checking for aptitude and attitude. The Ontario government’s Youth Skills Connections Program is providing $1.5 million in funding, and companies are investing approximately $1.7 million more in training these new employees.

“Youth who qualify and are hired by a company will start with three weeks of classroom learning so they are ‘workplace-ready’ and then have 23 weeks of shop floor ‘hands-on’ learning on production CNC machines,” the OMLC said. “Employers can interview pre-qualified candidates, then select and hire those who fit their company. Companies are provided with training guidelines to assist with the training and are provided with coaching and monitoring support.”

The first cohort of 16 youth has already been hired by 12 companies, the OMLC said, and they are described as being “well along” in the 26-week program. “The companies have been very enthusiastic about the quality of the people we’ve brought to them and several have expressed interest in hiring other youth from future rounds,” said Peter Drews, who acts as the OMLC mentor and coach both for the youth and companies.

The CNC Machinist Learning Program has initially launched in the Greater Toronto Area but there are plans to expand it to other manufacturing areas in Ontario in early 2015, including the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge-Guelph area.