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MFG MONTH: Students tour Grand Erie plants

Companies raise awareness of jobs in manufacturing to their future workforce.


October 13, 2015
by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

MFGMONTHOTTAWA — Ten manufacturers in the Grand Erie region of Ontario opened their doors to showcase their products and career opportunities during Manufacturing Month (aka MFG MONTH), reports Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME).

MFG MONTH, which launched on Oct. 1, saw firms in Brantford, Ont. as well as Brant, Norfolk and Haldimand counties welcome 120 high school students. A separate tour at one company was held for a group of adults, including several job developers from Employment Ontario agencies.

“We had positive feedback from the companies involved, and a number have already said they would like to participate again next year,” said Mark Skeffington a communicator with the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie. “Companies saw the day as a great opportunity to raise awareness of jobs in manufacturing to people who may become their future workforce.”

The tours were organized by the Workforce Planning Board on behalf of the region’s Manufacturing Leadership Council, an informal group established to give manufacturers a chance to voice common concerns.

One concern the Manufacturing Leadership Council has raised is the need to show residents that the industry has evolved past stereotypes of the work being dirty, loud and monotonous, and employing mainly lower-skilled jobs.

“Local manufacturers really stepped up and invested a lot of time to show their advanced manufacturing facilities,” said Skeffington.

Five members of the Council participated in Manufacturing Day tours. Those five companies were: Walter’s Inc., a structural steel fabricator in Princeton; Tigercat Industries, a forestry equipment maker in Paris; Apotex Pharmachem, a generic drug maker in Brantford; Home Hardware Paint Division in Burford and Cayuga-based Cayuga Displays, a maker of custom displays for the grocery and retail market.

Other companies were: J.P. Bowman Ltd., maker of dies for auto parts makers; Titan Trailers, maker of custom truck trailers; CGC Inc., a drywall manufacturer; Coorstek Inc., maker of ceramic filters; and the Norfolk Fruit Growers Association, which uses innovative equipment to sort, package and store apples.

At Tigercat, students got to operate the controls of a $1-million forestry machine, as well as see the stages of assembling them. At J.P. Bowman, students were shown how the firm uses computer software and high-tech processes to design, make and quality test a die that could be used to produce 500,000 auto parts in one year.

Skeffington noted that companies also had younger employees talk about their jobs and the pathway they took to work in manufacturing.

“The feedback we got from teachers and students was extremely positive, with some students saying they didn’t even know some companies and careers existed in their own backyard.”

CME is collaborating with the US associations involved in Manufacturing Day (aka MFG DAY) to spread the word that what your companies do is key to the wellbeing of our communities and national economies.

Co-producers who are promoting MFG DAY in the US include the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International (FMA), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Manufacturing Institute (MI) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

The idea is to welcome students, teachers, parents, job seekers and other local community members at events that showcase modern manufacturing technology and career opportunities.

Not sure how to put an event together? CME and its MFG DAY partner associations have put together easy to follow kits and resources to help you stage open houses.

CME has a toolkit that breaks down all the steps involved for a successful event, and check out www.mfgday.com for resources.

Also register at edufactor.org (which combines storytelling and educational resources highlighting in-demand careers in manufacturing) to access the ROCK MFG DAY (MONTH) Kit.

Check out this video for a MFG MONTH overview.

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