File Image: Valiant Training & Development Centre in Windsor, ONClick image to enlarge

The Valiant Training & Development Centre is undergoing a change to become the St. Clair College Skilled Trades Regional Training Centre.

In 2008, the Valiant Training & Development Centre opened in Windsor, ON. It was a result of the vision of Michael G. Solcz Sr., chairman emeritus, Solcz Group Inc. and founder of the Valiant TMS Group of Companies, to hire and develop specialized skilled trade talent locally to address the changing needs of the industry. Automation was influencing all aspects of the business and the skilled trades training available was not keeping pace. Mr. Solcz and his team developed an innovative approach combining work opportunity and training, preparing people for the job in 46 weeks – called “Earn While You Learn.”

Shop Metalworking Technology profiled the centre in 2016. Read the story here.

“Our team members and customers have benefitted from the skills and experience provided through our training programs,” says Solcz “We believe it is now time to expand the program to benefit the greater community and that St. Clair College is well positioned to drive that growth.”

The St. Clair College Skilled Trades Regional Training Centre will take skilled trades and apprenticeship training to the next level and provide much needed, specific skills training in our region.

“This presents our community with a great opportunity to provide industry with new ways to encourage our youth to explore a career in the manufacturing sector,” says St. Clair College president, Patricia France. “There are numerous partners in the community including the Canadian Tooling & Machining Association (CTMA), Canadian Association of Mouldmakers (CAMM), and the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association (APMA) who all have the same vision, to assist industry in being fully productive on the shop floor with well trained employees.”

Mike Ouellette, director of training at the Valiant Training & Development Centre, has been in industry for more than 39 years and has managed the Centre for the past eight years. He will now serve in this capacity working with St. Clair College. Ouellette’s passion to drive the concept of “Earn While You Learn” has been a key to the Centre’s success. His vision is to continue to work to enhance the pre-apprenticeship system and as importantly, to help young people achieve great careers in the machine, tool, die and mould industries. “We are here to improve people’s capabilities and help them achieve their full potential. Between Valiant TMS’ initial 46-week “Earn While You Learn” program and the two CTMA programs that are currently being run, we have helped more than 400 students get a great start with one of 36 industry partners in the community. With this new relationship with St. Clair College, we look forward to building on that success.”

The two programs currently being offered are for youth aged 18 – 29. The Introductory Trades Training (ITT) program includes six weeks of in-class workplace readiness training at the centre followed by 26 weeks of shop-floor training with a local employer. The “Earn While You Learn” program includes six weeks of in-class workplace readiness training and 36 weeks of intensive shop-floor training at the Training Centre. Under both programs students receive a certificate from the CTMA when they graduate.

The in-school portion of the program includes math skills, safety training, and blueprint reading classes. The shop floor components see students exposed to numerous state-of-the-art equipment including CNC machines. Both programs are funded by the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth (MEDG).

“The CTMA is pleased to see that both of our programs will have a new home within the college system” says Robert Cattle, executive director of the CTMA. “These programs have shown that, by looking to industry as our example, training methods can evolve. Young people are able to start careers by training and learning full-time which is producing a highly skilled, proficient workforce at a much faster rate. These are the types of changes that will help keep our Canadian workforce competitive and I applaud Patti and her team for taking the next step in this direction. We look forward to working with St. Clair College in the delivery of these and future programs.”

Jonathan Azzopardi, president of CAMM says CAMM and its members are proud to support St. Clair College in its decision to bring the Skilled Trades Regional Training Centre under its banner. “The Centre under the College now expands the potential to indirectly support the entire Windsor Essex Manufacturing sector which contributes over $4.9 billion dollars to our local economy and employs almost 50,000 and will directly help over 250 companies in the machine tool, die and mouldmaking (MTDM) sector.”

France says that with the wealth of knowledge and common goal amongst the various organizations in the community, the Skilled Trades Regional Training Centre will be able to continue to serve the needs of the MTDM industry into the future. “The College has a long history of training apprentices and skilled trades graduates who have gone on to rewarding careers in this industry sector. The Solcz family have been pioneers in the area of industry-ready training programs and we look forward to taking their model into the region to help other communities find and retain a skilled workforce.”

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