Premier Doug Ford wants Ontario to be the North American capital of automotive manufacturing, and his government is making a sizable investment to establish a new talent pipeline.
On Wednesday, the premier visited Stratford’s Dyna-Mig facility, in the city's industrial section on Wright Blvd., to announce a $5 million investment into the industry’s education sector. That money, which is a part of the Ontario Skills Development Fund, will go towards free training for underrepresented groups in the industry – demographics that include youth, women, newcomers, and racialized communities, the premier said.
Five hundred people will benefit from free training, online and in-person, which will provide them with training in machine operation, assembly, quality control, and logistics. Some of the soft skills they hope to instill in trainees include project management, and troubleshooting.
While the question period for Premier Ford was occupied with Toronto media asking questions concerning the health sector, MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex and Minister of Labour, Training, and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton, answered questions afterwards for local media regarding the logistics of the investment – and what Stratford can expect.
“The applications are going to be handled through the Automotive Manufacturing Parts Association (APMA),” McNaughton explained. “It's to provide 500 opportunities for underrepresented groups to get careers in auto parts manufacturing. Employers can be reimbursed up to $4,600 of that paid placement. But the good news is every single participant is guaranteed a job at the end of this program.”
The key issue that this program hopes to address is the labour shortage that is plaguing the industry. Dyna-Mig is feeling that shortage, too. Just outside, while the premier made his announcement, a help-wanted sign hung – with a signing bonus to boot. Such a big, widespread issue is going to require more than one government to overcome, McNaughton said.
“It really is all hands on deck to build the labour shortage. It's a generational challenge that we have. When I think back to March of 2020, 200,000 jobs in Ontario were going unfilled. Today, it's 378,000. The premier is right. It's a national issue. Across Canada, today, almost a million jobs are going unfilled."
“We're really focused on recruiting indigenous peoples for this program. There's a real focus in this program in attracting young people to careers in auto parts manufacturing … it'll be all of these groups that we're encouraging to apply.”
APMA is leading the program. They will provide three-month paid job placements through their network and, as McNaughton said, these employers will receive up to $4,600 in wage subsidies for each trainee.
The project is underway, running until Mar. 31, 2023. Any individual or employer wishing to apply can do so on APMA’s website.