The seeds to a new partnership that's helping solve the skilled trades shortage have been planted.
Northern College and EACOM Timber Corporation have signed onto to a three-year agreement.
It will see trades students at Northern College have guaranteed co-op placements at EACOM's sites. It also encourages teaching partnerships, recruitment and employment initiatives, speaking engagement opportunities, and scholarship offerings. EACOM is donating $5,000 for the college to buy a machine tool chip conveyor learning system as well.
The agreement was signed in the college's trade shop, with faculty and students looking on.
Northern College dean of trades and technology Aaron Klooster noted the excitement in the room.
He said the agreement is giving students access to work-integrated learning.
"And this is something that we really pride ourselves on in the college system in general, but certainly in a small college like this, our connection to industry is strong and it means our students can access that type of relationship. They benefit from that relationship,” he said.
The partnership with EACOM benefits industrial millwright and heavy equipment technicians, with the possibility of adding instrumentation in the third year.
In January 2020, he said the first six millwright students will have a two-week placement at the end of their fourth semester. In January 2021, six millwright students and six heavy equipment students will have guaranteed placements.
“It leaves the students in a position where that if they start the program and they understand that there’s this light at the end of the tunnel, there’s a company like EACOM that’s willing to say, get through your fourth semester and we’ll give you a chance,” he said.
In the trades program, Klooster said there are typically about 60 students coming in every year.
He said there will be a system where students will either earn or apply to get one of the EACOM placements.
“These things need to be earned. This is an opportunity and this is obviously an employer, that from our perspective, is very serious about recruitment,” he said.
With some of EACOM's sites being fairly remote, Klooster said the company is also looking at the opportunities to help with housing.
It was EACOM that opened the conversation for the partnership with the college.
“In general if we talk about the industry, labour and especially trades labour or skilled labour is a challenge to the industry," said Kevin Edgson, EACOM President and CEO.
Because the labour problem can't be solved in a short period, he said the company is motivated.
"And right now we have some very capable, skilled, experienced workers with an immense amount of talent, but they’re getting closer and closer to retirement. What we need to do is engage young people with their vitality and their interest coming into the industry while they still have a chance to learn from those that have been there for as long as they have," said Edgson.
"We have people working in Timmins who have been there for 35 and 40 years, I mean that’s an incredible value to the organization. What we need to do is make sure we’ve got the next generation coming in and this is a great partnership for being able to do that."
At the end of the placement, he said the students' opportunities with EACOM will be based on their interest in the communities that they are located in.
He said there are constant job postings, and the demographics are going in a direction that that will continue.