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If Brian Philip could change education in manufacturing in secondary and post secondary institutions, he would add the missing “sizzle” to the steak.

“A young lad named Jeremy Bout created EdgeFactor, which illustrates the excitement of manufacturing. We need more people like him with enthusiasm about manufacturing.”

Philip, technical manager for market area Americas, for Sandvik Coromant, based in Mississauga, ON, chairs the Program Advisory Committee at Durham College in Whitby, ON. He is also active in the “B Tech” program—an apprenticeship program blended with engineering that gives students a Bachelor of Technology certificate—at Mohawk College and McMaster University, and sits on the Advisory Board for the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton, AB.

Philip has visited a number of colleges, universities and technical institutes that run manufacturing programs and what he’s noticed is that Ontario seems to lag behind provinces such as Alberta and Quebec for graduating skilled trades students.

“At NAIT [Northern Alberta Institute of Technology], the institute has a very successful student enrollment going through its programs. The institute runs four-year apprenticeship programs. Quebec doesn’t seem to have as big an issue with the lack of skilled trades students coming out of schools. I think it has to do with Quebec having more European-like attitudes towards skilled trades with apprenticeship programs. Ontario doesn’t appear to have the enrollment numbers like Alberta or Quebec. In part it’s because Ontario offers a one-year apprenticeship program and that’s not enough to allow them to learn about the many facets of manufacturing, and of course it is not expected to be. However, there has to be a link to other programs to allow students to gain credits and move into other programs."

To his point, he says that in Ontario, Durham “has just dropped the machinist program for this year because it only had 10 to 12 students registered, which isn’t enough for the school to justify the cost of running the course. Mohawk and Conestoga are struggling to fill their machinist programs too.”

One way to add that “sizzle” to manufacturing is to create better environments in the machine shops at technical colleges. It is critical to have a bright environment with modern technology to attract student to the programs offered at Ontario colleges.

It’s one reason Sandvik Coromant is actively involved with education for manufacturing, he adds.

“One thing we’ve done because of interest and passion for apprenticeship programs [Philip is a graduate of the UK apprenticeship program] is to provide knowledge on how to run tools and be more efficient to enhance the programs in most of the technical colleges. We need to strengthen apprenticeship programs in machining otherwise the manufacturing base in this country won’t have people to run their shops. We’re doing our small part to improve apprenticeship training in Canada.”

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