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Four organizations team up to address “critical” CNC machinist shortage


November 25, 2014
By Alyssa Dalton


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Nov. 25, 2014 – Four manufacturing organizations say they have banded together for a new “by industry, for industry” learning program to actively hire and train unemployed/underemployed youth to help address a “critical” shortage of CNC machinists.

With an immediate need for 270 CNC machinists now and 700 in the next two years, they say, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME), Canadian Tooling & Machining Association (CTMA), Ontario Aerospace Council (OAC), and Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCI) have developed the Ontario Manufacturing Learning Consortium (OMLC) and the CNC Machinist (Level 1) Selection and Learning 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,” said Rod Jones, program co-director, OMLC. “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.”

According to Jones, there are few CNC machining post-secondary programs in the province and “young people coming out of these programs don’t fully meet industry needs, so a different kind of solution was required.”

“This earn-while-you-learn hands-on program provides Ontario youth with the opportunity to learn a trade focused on innovation and technology, while starting a career in the manufacturing sector,” said Ian Howcroft, CME Ontario vice president.

How the program works
Youth who qualify and are hired by a company will start with three weeks of classroom learning, followed by 23 weeks of shop floor ‘hands-on’ learning with production CNC machines. 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 been hired by 12 companies and they are well along in the 26-week program, reported the consortium.

“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 for the youth and companies.

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.

Initially launched in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), there are plans to expand the CNC Machinist Learning Program to other manufacturing areas in Ontario in early 2015.

For more information, please contact Rod Jones, program co-director at 416-399-2648, rod.jones@omlca.ca or Robert Cattle, program co-director at 416-301-6224, rcattle@ctma.com.

— With files from the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME)