Apprentices and students in several programs in St. Clair’s Ford Centre for Excellence in Manufacturing (FCEM) will be working on some new equipment, thanks to a $653,000 provincial grant presented to the college on September 15.
The money is from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development’s Apprenticeship Capital Grants program.
It will be used to purchase seven new, three-axis computer-numerical control (CNC) machines – devices which cut metal to make machined parts.
The machines will be used by apprentices in St. Clair’s General Machinist program, and by students in the Tool and Die and Mould Maker programs.
Handling the presentation for the provincial government during the press conference at the college was Windsor-Tecumseh MPP (Conservative) Andrew Downie.
He said updating the equipment of colleges and other apprentice training agencies was part of the government’s overall plan to attract people to consider and secure careers in the skilled trades – a provincial employment sector that will have in excess of 100,000 job openings during the next decade.
The grant application prepared by Richard Lauzon, St. Clair’s Manager of Apprenticeships, stated: “This project (updating the machines) will modernize program delivery to enhance the student's understanding of current and upcoming technology of the metal-cutting trades. With the demand for new technology in CNC machines, students must be prepared to learn how to use this equipment. The new equipment is state-of-the-art and ideal for operators still working on advanced machining skills. These machines can be found in the local industry. Therefore, students that have had the opportunity to learn on these machines will be job-ready. It will significantly increase apprenticeship training efficiency and quality in support of this program's upcoming 2023-2024 seat plan enrolment.”
In addition to the many existing local factories that make use of CNC-created parts-making, the application added that the new and retooled Stellantis, DongShin Motech and LG Energy Solution plants will be employing staffers skilled in this technology.
In her remarks during the grant presentation ceremony on September 15, college President Patti France observed:
As manufacturing materials and processes have evolved – and that sort of change is constant – so have the machines used in almost all industries.
For us, that has meant that this building (the 20-plus-years-old FCEM) – and the educational and training programs housed within it – have never been static. To meet our mandate of providing state-of-the-art job-preparation that is responsive to the needs of local employers, the FCEM’s inventory of equipment and its teaching curriculum have had to be enhanced and expanded almost annually.
We’ve been extremely fortunate in having developed close relationships and formal partnerships with dozens of local and national manufacturers. They have donated machinery to us frequently during the past several decades, making it easier for our grads to slide directly on to the shop-floor with perfect familiarity with the equipment they’ll be using.
And we’re extremely fortunate, today, to have this support from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. This grant of over $650,000 ... will ensure that our General Machinist apprenticeship training remains vibrantly up-to-date and accessible – benefitting both the program’s enrollees, and the industries which so urgently need their skills. These machines are also used by our Tool and Die and Mould-making students (and such programs as Mechanical Technician–CAD/CAM and Mechanical Techniques–Precision Metal-cutting).
As such, this is not just an investment in the college. It is an investment in the lives of our apprentices and students, in the efficiency of local manufacturing industries, and in the economic well-being of our community.