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.