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New program aims to train young people in manufacturing jobs

Secondary school students and recent graduates are eligible for the program, which will provide short-term paid work placements for those age 16 to 24
Brenda Bailey, minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation, at VMAC in Nanaimo. Via Province of B.C.

A new program launching this fall around the province is designed to attract young people to manufacturing, where skilled workers are in demand.

The new Youth in Manufacturing on-the-job training program is being funded with $3 million from the province. Participants will be able to investigate opportunities in about 40 jobs, including robotics, machining and welding.

Secondary school students and recent graduates are eligible to take part in the program, which will provide short-term paid work placements for up to 500 participants age 16 to 24.

Participants can earn credits toward secondary school graduation and apprenticeship certification, and the program is designed to include under-represented groups.

Employers can receive up to $3,500 per participant to bring a young person into a company and cover their wages.

Jobs Minister Brenda Bailey unveiled the initiative in Nanaimo Monday at VMAC Global Technology Inc., a leading air compressor company in Canada, based in a 44,000-square-foot facility south of the city.

Canada’s unemployment rate is at five per cent, but the rate for those ages 15 to 24 is almost double that at 9.6 per cent, the highest unemployment rate among age groups.

VMAC president Tod Gilbert says a shortage of skilled workers poses a significant challenge to the industry, limiting growth opportunities for B.C. companies.

VMAC employs about 160 staff who turn out air compressors for a wide range of sectors. Compressors can be mounted on vehicles, used in construction, in oil and gas, in forestry for equipment maintenance and repair and to run air tools, and for municipal governments doing infrastructure work.

Bailey said manufacturing is a growing part of the economy, with 49,000 new job openings coming to the sector over the next decade. “Now is the time to introduce young people to the sector so they’re ready to fill those jobs.”

In B.C., manufacturing jobs pay an average of $34.26 per hour. In some positions — such as in aerospace, medical products and shipbuilding — workers can command average wages of more than $50 an hour.

Funding for the Youth in Manufacturing program comes from B.C.’s Future Ready Action Plan. The program will be delivered by the Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium.

Interested school districts can contact David Munro at [email protected]. The intake process begins in mid-June.

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