Provincial funding to aid in College’s support of Niagara’s advanced manufacturing sector

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Niagara College is launching a new project to support technological and workforce development in Niagara’s growing advanced manufacturing sector.

The project will provide training for current industry professionals in Niagara on state-of-the-art equipment and simulators, and attract and recruit new talent into the industry from among Niagara’s high-school and post-secondary students.

The College’s Media, Technology and Trades division recently secured $500,000 to fund the project through the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development’s Skills Catalyst Fund, which supports projects that build stronger links between skills development and the demands of the new economy.

Over the next year, the College will purchase 25 cutting-edge manufacturing simulators, including robotic training simulators, CNC milling machine simulators, and 3D rapid-prototyping printers. This equipment will be used to train industry employees, adding to Niagara’s competitiveness in a sector that is being transformed by advancing technology.

The project also aims to encourage students to enter the industry and provide them with the skills to do so. Some of the simulators and training equipment will be used to showcase advanced manufacturing skills at Niagara’s elementary and high schools, with a focus on encouraging women and other traditionally under-represented groups to pursue a career in the industry.

The College will also adapt the curricula of its own technology and business programs to make use of the simulators, bringing new technological skills to over 800 students annually.

“Niagara’s robust advanced manufacturing sector is already a defining feature of the region’s economic identity, and will continue to grow in its significance,” said Marc Nantel, Niagara College’s interim dean of Media, Technology and Trades. “Over the past several years, Niagara College has taken a strong leadership role in the development of this key industry, and through this project will be able to further enhance and support the development of this vital workforce in Niagara.”

As a first step in the project, the College will establish an advisory committee to guide the project, comprising college faculty and staff, as well as area employers and industry partners like the Niagara Industrial Association and the Niagara Workforce Planning Board.

“Niagara College’s project is exactly the type of partnership we need in Ontario’s changing economy — one that brings workers, employers, educators and learners together,” said Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development. “We established the Skills Catalyst Fund to support initiatives that take a creative and innovative approach to skills building in the province, and that’s exactly what this project does. I want to thank Niagara College for their work, and welcome their insights as we build a stronger, more responsive training system suited to the needs of employers and workers.”

Niagara College provides ongoing support for Niagara’s many small- and medium-sized enterprises, including those in the advanced manufacturing sector, through applied research projects carried out by faculty, staff and students in the College’s Research and Innovation division, in partnership with area employers.

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