Manufacturing groups tackle critical machinist shortage

Ontario Manufacturing Learning Consortium says more than 700 CNC machinists needed now.

TORONTO — Four manufacturing organizations have banded together to actively hire and train unemployed and underemployed youth to address a critical shortage of CNC machinists.

Companies within the aerospace, tool and die mould, nuclear and manufacturing sectors have expressed frustration with finding and hiring qualified CNC machinists.

Facing an immediate need for 270 of them now and for 700 in the next two years, the four industry organizations have formed the Ontario Manufacturing Learning Consortium (OMLC) and launched an industry-led hiring and training initiative called the CNC Machinist (Level 1) Selection and Learning Program.

The founding organizations include the Ontario Aerospace Council (OAC), the Canadian Tooling & Machining Association (CTMA), the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCI) and Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME).

The Ontario government will provide funding under the Youth Skills Connections Program.

They expressed those frustrations to their industry associations — the Ontario Aerospace Council (OAC), the Canadian Tooling & Machining Association (CTMA), the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCI) and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) – which led to the formation of the OMLC. Rather than looking to others for solutions, the industry has decided to try a dramatically different approach – launching a “by industry, for industry” learning program.

Rod Jones, program co-director of the consortium notes that there are very few post-secondary programs in Ontario for CNC machining and young people coming out of these programs don’t fully meet industry needs, “so a different kind of solution was required.”

The 16 young people been hired by 12 companies and are 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,” says Peter Drews, who acts as the OMLC mentor and coach both for the youth and companies.

The OMLC partners with organizations, such as the City of Toronto Employment and Social Services, to reach out youth that are18-29, to discuss a career as a CNC machinist. They participate in a 26-week employment and training program that can lead to full time employment.

OMLC partner Manpower Group, global human resources specialists, screens the candidates, checking for aptitude and attitude. The Youth Skills Connections Program is providing $1.5 million and companies are investing $1.7 million more to train the new employees.

Youth who qualify and are hired by a company will start with three weeks of classroom learning to make them workplace-ready followed by 23 weeks of shop floor ‘hands-on’ learning on 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 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.

6 Comments » for Manufacturing groups tackle critical machinist shortage
  1. Canadian says:

    Finally a group of people taking direct, appropriate action to a problem. Instead of creating more committees, research groups etc. who waste away money. Good for you! I applaud you. The rest of Canada should sit up and take notice and follow in your foot steps. Then we might not need the foreign worker program!

  2. Greg says:

    I am on my second apprenticeship now as a Millwright. I have to drive 3 hrs each way to attend my day release program. My company expressed they needed cheaper help before they close their doors while moving everything to the U.S. On the job training is a joke and I am unable to find anything in this area and there is no way of finding good companies willing to hire dedicated apprentices. Companies in this article ,taking this lead are serious about where their companies futures are heading. Others are just looking for wage subsidies and kickbacks.

  3. Bill Bolton says:

    I have over 36 years of hands on practical experience that you can’t learn in a million years of school, operating my my own machining and fab business for over 10 years, yet am virtually unemployable because I guess, I can’t stampede my thumbs across the surface of a smart phone! I’ve had many conversations with customers who agree that kids are running marathons and writing novels when they haven’t learned to crawl or know the alphabet!

  4. Greg C says:

    For approximately 10 years NB has had an apprenticeship program and license for the CNC Machinist trade. There is definitely an overlap with the traditional Machinist trade so block (level) 1 and 2 are common to both trades. When someone completes their apprenticeship they are a licensed CNC Machinist, not a CNC Operator. They have the skills required to be a key person in shops in all aspects of job planning, programming, set-up, fixturing, troubleshooting and inspection. The training discussed in the article is for CNC Operators, they are not, without further training and lots of experience CNC Machinists. Nor are they apprentice CNC Machinists as Ontario has no Licensed CNC Machinists unless they moved from another Province who supports CNC Machinist trade.

  5. Ankita says:

    We at Quantum are currently looking for experienced CNC Machine Set Up Operators in the North West area of Toronto. Most of you seem to have a wealth of experience in the Aerospace industry and we are looking for individuals with at least a minimum of 3-5 years work experience. If you are interested or know anyone who is interested in knowing more, please email me directly with your resume at

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