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Manufacturing training investments made at UNB, NBCC

By Scott Pettigrew Mar 17, 2023 | 8:06 AM

New Brunswick will invest almost $7 million in an “earn as you learn” program to be administered and delivered by UNB, NBCC, and UK partner Marshall Skills Academy.

“I am very pleased to announce that our government is committing $6.87 million to deliver a work-integrated learning model aimed at the labour force in our province’s manufacturing sector,” Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder told an audience of about 30 people at the Hans W. Klohn Commons at the Saint John campus of the University of New Brunswick.

The five-year pilot project will introduce four programs where students will work four days per week and study in class one day, creating an opportunity to further their education while still getting a paycheque. The program will be targeted to high school students, underrepresented groups in the industry, and those changing careers. It will also be used to attract people from other provinces and internationally.

The program’s website is set to start accepting applications of interest immediately as certain programs are getting started as early as summer 2023, with the program beginning in earnest in September 2024. The program aims to graduate 454 students by the end of the pilot.

The money will be used to cover students’ tuition while they participate in the program, as well as to fund the efforts of the partners in running the programs.

The four programs are manufacturing essentials, an eight-week micro-credentialing program giving basic instruction to several trades and opportunities to build employability skills; an 18-month advanced manufacturing diploma leading to a certificate at the technician level with a three-year option leading to a diploma at the technologist level; a bachelor of technology industrial where participants complete a combination of in-person and virtual learning at UND as well as tracking their on the job learning; and a master’s in system engineering aimed at domestic and international graduates who have completed an applicable bachelor’s degree.

Marshall Skills Academy, a century-old, UK-based apprenticeship company with expertise in engineering, aerospace and business skills, will help recruit the students and the industry partners to the program.

“When our government assumed office, we recognized the significant challenges ahead of us with respect to the labour force. You’ve heard me say it over and over and over again: we have 120,000 New Brunswickers leaving the workforce over the next decade. That’s the population of Greater Saint John, which is very significant in terms of what’s coming towards us. But we have done a number of things to get ready to meet that challenge and turn it into an opportunity,” Holder said.

Holder emphasized that readying the province for manufacturing expertise was a key component of the long-term vision of the province for the Saint John area.

“When you’ve got a deep water port, that in terms of nautical miles is closer to emerging world markets and a lot of other places in North America, and you’ve got that competitive advantage that Canadian Pacific Railway has brought back to Saint John, and with DP World operating the terminal – all of those things combined have given us a competitive advantage that we haven’t even begun to get our head around,” Holder says.

“In terms of manufacturing, we are strategically placed. We’ve made the right investments as a province, and as a community, and we’ve got to be thinking of what that means. That’s why it’s really important to get the training and education component in place now so that we can meet those opportunities when they come along.”

With the recent go-ahead in the US for Canadian Pacific Railway to complete its $27 billion acquisition of Kansas City Southern Railway, CP becomes the only rail operator serving Canada, the United States and Mexico. That could prove to be a big advantage for Saint John as a transportation and logistics hub.

Shorter term, the goal of the program is to retain skilled tradespeople in New Brunswick, by providing both educational and employment opportunities.

“The interesting part about the model is that they’re actually already in the jobs with industry, and then upskill while they’re going along with their education,” says UNB SJ vice president, Dr. Petra Hauf.

“The aim is to keep the talent here, in industries they are working in.”

She says the focus of NBCC will be advanced manufacturing, and for UNB it will be the Bachelor of Technology, which she describes as giving the students “the extra university experience in the industrial component, which also has a huge component around management, and taking on those leadership roles in the industry.”

Hauf says UNB will be expanding its programs to accommodate this new initiative, by hiring more professors and technicians.

Marshall Skills Academy which recently opened a production facility in Moncton will be providing its expertise in running apprenticeship programs to help the initiative get started.

“We will do the recruitment onto the programs,” says Dan Edwards, general manager of Marshall Skills Academy.

“We will help recruit the industry partners … we will do reviews, we will have quality checks to make sure that the program is delivering. We will deliver the KPIs to the government on the success of the program. And we will oversee and project manages the pilot and then eventually hand it over to UNB and NBCC.”

Alex Graham is a Reporter for Huddle Today, a content-sharing partner of Acadia Broadcasting.


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