St. Clair College partners with local industry and community for new human resources program
The Windsor Star/Dave Waddell
Having spent millions on high-tech machinery and improving manufacturing processes, mouldmakers and tool and die firms are applauding a new human resources pilot program aimed at helping the industry manage its workforce.
The one-year pilot program is a partnership between St. Clair College, the Canadian Association of Mold Makers, local industry and community groups and Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development and Growth.
“This is a pilot program designed by industry for industry,” said Nour Hachem, project manager for St. Clair College.
“We consulted with industry about what their needs were and help with human resources was right at the top.”
The pilot project was created from a $403,000 federal grant with a matching sum being supplied by St. Clair and local industry partners.
The program is aimed at recent Human Resource graduates and alumni between 18 and 29 years of age.
However, the college also encourages those interested outside that age bracket to apply.
Participants will complete 100 hours of training designed specifically to address the needs of local industry. Upon completion they will receive an Award of Recognition from the college.
Students will then be placed with a local firm for a 12-week paid internship. During that that time they will be paired with a mentor from the Human Resources Professionals Association (Windsor).
Government funding of $1,000 to $1,200 per student will help defray the costs of the paid internship.
There will space for 55 students over the course of the yearlong pilot project.
The first 12-week session will begin Nov. 7.
“We’ve become reactionary when we should be more proactive,” Cavalier Tool president Brian Bendig said of the industry’s past approach to human resources.
“As an owner, you want to be engaged with employees. But the busier you grow, that begins to fade.
“Having a face of the company to do that, to deal with benefits etc. and communicate effectively, provides confidence for the employees.”
Having seen the company double in size to 131 employees over the past five years, Cavalier hired a human resources specialist this summer.
“We recognized our limitations,” said Cavalier general manager Brenda Quint, who handled much of the HR work.
“It’s people, process and equipment (in our industry). We had the equipment and good processes, we felt we needed to do more relating to people.”
Quint said in an industry where profit is tied to product, the sales pitch had to be how HR issues were negatively affecting the bottom line.
“It goes back to the industry understanding the value,” Quint said.
“A lot of smaller firms don’t have it in the budget and adding it wasn’t the top of the list.”
Cavalier’s new human resources manager Jena Reid has already proven the worth of the position.
Bendig has long harboured a dream of having a second-design shift to cut in half the turnaround time of making a tool and to take advantage of the pricey machinery and software that sat idle half the time.
However, in her short tenure, Reid came up with a plan to fill the six slots required for a second shift. That shift begins early next month.
“You have to know what you’re looking for,” Reid said. “It’s a very specific industry.
“For the manufacturing industry to grow, you can only get by so far being human resources averse. You have to retain your employees and find new ones, make sure you’re in compliance with laws, health and safety regulations, how to access government grants . . . “
Hachem said the government has indicated there could be more funding if the program proves successful.
That will be determined by the number of hires companies involved in the project make during the next year, the number of HR grads finding employment and progress in a number of other human resource areas.
“They want to see jobs created or filled,” Hachem said.
For companies wishing to learn more about the program, an information session will be held Nov. 4 beginning at 8 a.m. at the Ciociaro Club.