Educating the educators about manufacturing

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Manufacturing doesn’t have the greatest reputation among the general public and when it comes to youth, it’s not often considered as a career choice. The Canadian Tooling and Machining Association (CTMA), along with industry suppliers, want to change that perception and held the first Technolody Day on June 14 in Cambridge, ON, to do just that.

Technology Day was held at Mazak Canada’s facility in Cambridge, ON, and the intention was to “educate the educators” and provide some industry insight to youth and to educators about manufacturing technologies in use today, says Robert Cattle, CTMA’s executive director.

Technology Day attendees

“We want the educators to away from this event today realizing that this industry is one that their students should consider. There are many students who want to work with their hands and be involved in making something and we want to showcase the technolgoies used in the metalworking industry that does this. We want to open the doors to our industry and we want to get the word out that this isn’t your grandfather’s blacksmith shop.”

Indeed, Ray Buxton, general manager of Mazak Canada, who spoke to the group, highlighed how virtually everything around us, from the clothing we buy to the electronics we use, are likely connected in some way to machining. Asked why Mazak wanted to be part of this event, Buxton says it’s simple.

Ray Buxton, general manager at Mazak Canada

“If you’re in this industry, you have to be passionate about bringing young people into it. This is a problem we face because if you go to the schools and the guidance councillors at those schools, they’ll tell you they don’t know this industry and often think of it as a dirty, horrible industry and that smart people shouldn’t be in it. I know of two high school principals who were concerned about their prospective son-in-law because he wanted to be a tool and die maker. Well today, that son-in-law is an executive in an automotive company.”

Ted Callighen, the president of CTMA’s Board of Directors, who works at metals supply firm Schmolz+Bickenbach Canada Inc., provided some insight into the significance of the manufacturing sector, based on Statistics Canada information and on a survey conducted by the CTMA.

He noted that manufacturing represented 11% of Canada’s GDP and that since 2008, manufacturing sales in the country have increased to $112 billion. And according to CTMA figures, revenues in the industry in 2015 also increased. For machine tools revenue hit $465 million, tooling revenues were $240 million, while the tool, die and mould industry was $3.5 billion.

He noted that manufacturing has undergone significant changes over the decades. By way of example, in 1960 the largest number of jobs in manufacturing were made up of unskilled workers while only 13% were high skilled jobs. Today, 60% of jobs in manufacturing require higher education for higher skilled positions for to handle more complex technologies such as five axis machining, automation and robotics.

More than 120 people attended the event, including 41 students from The Valiant Training and Development Centre, who came by bus from Windsor.

The event was supported by industry supplier partners Mazak, Iscar and Sandvik Coromant, and industry participants Horn, Seco, In-House Solutions, Cimetrix, Renishaw, and CGTech Vericut.

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