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Ontario offers $14M to auto industry to pay for apprentices

Greg Layson, Automotive News Canada
January 28, 2020

The Government of Ontario is giving the auto industry $14 million to pay for apprentices and work placements for postsecondary students and recent graduates.

The funding, announced today at Cavalier Tool and Manufacturing in Windsor, Ont., will provide up to 4,000 work paid placements, each between four and 12 months in length.

Those who qualify for the money will get experience with new measuring tools, machinery, and production methods.

“Ontario’s auto and advanced manufacturing sector is evolving at a faster pace than our training system,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development. “We know how vital these good jobs are in communities like Windsor, Oshawa, Oakville and beyond.”

Those are three cities in which Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors and Oakville have all announced job cuts, including the end of vehicle production altogether in Oshawa. The Detroit Three automakers have announced about 4,000 cuts since November 2018 and all of them will have been made by the end of March when FCA plans to cut a shift at its Windsor minivan plant.

“The investment we’re announcing today will help people get meaningful hands-on learning opportunities,” McNaughton said in a statement. “This not only helps our future engineers, designers, managers, technicians and tradespeople to apply their studies to real world problems, it also allows them to explore the auto industry as a career option.”

The placements, provided under the Career Ready Fund, are part of the government’s Driving Prosperity Plan. They are designed to help the sector keep pace with innovations that are transforming the factory floor.

The fund will provide incentives to employers of up to $3,000 per placement or up to $5,000 for placements for participants with disabilities.

“The core of any manufacturing operation is the skilled workforce. We are all aware of the current skilled trade shortages, and the demographic reality that it will get worse. This needs to change,” said Tim Galbraith, sales manager at Cavalier Tool and Manufacturing.

According to the province, there were, on average, 2,100 vacancies in the transpiration and equipment manufacturing sector through the first three quarters of 2019. Fourth-quarter statistics aren’t yet available.

“Ontario’s auto sector is going through many changes. New technologies and modern processes mean businesses need more workers with more skill sets,” McNaughton said a news conference at Cavalier. “There is a stigma around the skilled trades. They are viewed as the second-best option.”

McNaughton vowed that he and the province want to shatter the myths around the skilled trades.

“Skilled trades are the backbone of the automotive industry,” Cavalier President Brian Bendig said.

The first round of the Career Ready Fund’s Auto Stream provided $5 million and created more than 1,000 learning opportunities for postsecondary students, recent grads and apprentices through projects by Toyota, Honda, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, as well as from the broader supply chain through the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) and the Canadian Tooling and Machining Association, the government said.

“The Career Ready Fund’s Auto Stream helped to create permanent connections between the next generation of Ontario leaders and the limitless potential of its automotive sector,” said Flavio Volpe, APMA president. “This fund bridges the most acute gap we all have to a sustainable future for our sector, and it ensures that the brightest talent finds a home within the province’s biggest industry.”

Auto manufacturing and advanced manufacturing companies with a footprint in the auto sector, industry associations, postsecondary institutions and other not-for-profit organizations are encouraged to submit proposals through the Transfer Payment Ontario website, the government said.

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