Manufacturing sector employers in Leeds and Grenville have indicated that there is a skills gap. The Economic Development Offices from Brockville, Gananoque, Prescott and the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, along with Employment and Education Centre, CSE Consulting, KEYS Employment Centre, St. Lawrence College and Eastern Workforce Innovation Board are working together to support manufacturing labour demands in our area.
The Pathways to Production (PTP) program, in partnership with SkillsAdvance Ontario, will respond to the industry's needs by providing a pipeline of skilled employees to fill local job opportunities, add value to the local manufacturing sector by reducing costs and increasing productivity through retention strategies, on-boarding, coaching, mentoring and post-hiring support. PTP will support manufacturers in improving workplace culture of engagement which will assist with attraction mechanisms. Intensive one-on-one coaching will be provided to each participant by the PTP team.
Pathways to Production will integrate industry-endorsed pre-employment, technical, soft skills, essential skills and industry certifications within a six-week training session delivered prior to the transition to permanent employment. The program consists of three weeks of in-class training, two weeks paid work placement (employer location), followed by a one week return to class for performance review/work preparation. The program includes $1,000 in employer supports upon transition to permanency as well as ongoing job maintenance/retentions supports (minimum one year).
Pathways to Production will be offered in three communities over the next 12 months (2019-2020); Prescott, Brockville, and Gananoque, with a total intake of 50 participants, and an anticipated 42 participants employed at the end of the program. Participants will be distributed amongst the manufacturing partners for on-site training, paid work placement and employment. Paid work placement will be funded by the PTP. Participants in the PTP will be for unemployed or underemployed job seekers 18 years of age or older.
"SkillsAdvance Ontario projects are designed to help both businesses and jobseekers in a region," said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. "When you tailor a training curriculum around the needs of local employers and offer effective employment supports for the participating trainees, you can achieve outcomes that make a difference."
CSE Prescott is currently coming to the end of their first run of the pilot project, which included ten local participants. The program partnered with Giant Tiger Distribution, Prysmian Group, Northern Cables, Compendium Group, & Prescott Finishing. All of the partners were located in Prescott or Edwardsburgh Cardinal.
The Manufacturing sector employer partner responsibilities are to advise and participate in the development and level of customization for the curriculum, provide on-site training, work placements and employment opportunities, provide trainers where appropriate, may provide on-site training space, will provide WSIB coverage during on-site training and work placement, and commit to offering permanent positions to successful participants.
"We had five employers committed and felt very confident that we could run the program successfully here in Prescott. We had a number of interested parties and ended up with what we felt were the ten best qualified to fill these positions," said CSE Job Developer Rod Palmer.
"Our expectation and goal is that these workers will receive an offer of permanent employment. Reception of the program has been great overall; when I follow-up with the workers they're excited about the jobs and what they're learning. The employers and supervisors have been so helpful in orientating these workers and have provided us with excellent feedback on the program," said Palmer.
It is understood that each manufacturing partner will undertake their final selection of its employees. Specific criterion for employment (ie. criminal reference checks), will be done as part of the participant selection process through the employment agency.
The next program will run Brockville in January 2020, to be hosted by the Employment and Education Centre.