Youth – Our Hope for Tomorrow

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by Robert Cattle

When I was asked to write this guest editorial for SHOP Metalworking Technology magazine, I hesitated at first as my mind began to wander about what to write about. I thought, “I could focus on several topics that have been affecting CTMA members and those in the industry, for the last year—COVID concerns, border issues, steel prices and chip shortages, or even put in my two cents about a recently sprung federal election”!

But, instead, I decided to focus on something a little different: something very positive—our youth!

We have often heard that today’s youth do not want to work hard or have a sense of entitlement and expect things to be given to them. While I have met some people who fit this description, I have also come across many hardworking individuals who are the complete opposite.

As the executive director for the CTMA, I have been extremely fortunate to have been involved in several training initiatives that we have brought forward throughout the years. These include our Introductory Trades Training Program, our CNC Machinist – Level 1 program and our current Career-Ready with CTMA program. Through all these programs, I have met literally hundreds of young men and women who have started careers within our industry.

One thing that the successful participants had in common was the drive to succeed.

It is so gratifying to enter a shop and speak with previous participants and see their success now. I often hear comments like, “Rob, it is great to see you again, let me show you what I have been working on now. Oh, and by the way, I bought a house a few years ago and recently got married. I never thought that would happen to me!”

I see and hear this type of thing quite often as I monitor participants in our Career-Ready programs. I cannot tell you how often I am blown away by what these young men and women have accomplished in such a short period of time. Whether it is machining/programming skills or innovations brought forward in design, I am constantly amazed. I often mention to Julie and Sarah, our other two CTMA staff, just how fortunate I am to be the one who can see their achievements first-hand. Readers can meet a few of them at this link online:

We are currently working with six school boards in Ontario in a pilot program, to purchase and install new equipment in their high school technology programs. Our hope is to expose students to up-to-date technology and the career paths that are available within our industry. Stay tuned for updates. 

So, as we move forward, the CTMA will continue to encourage youth to get into our trade through the programs that we develop. I will continue to have renewed hope that things will be OK once a lot of us baby boomers finally do retire. Yes, some of the old skills will be lost, but they will be replaced with new ones and different techniques that will continue to amaze us all. 

I look forward to watching it all unfold. SMT

Robert Cattle, executive director, Canadian Tooling & Machine Association (CTMA)

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