St. Clair skilled trades program can't keep up with industry demand for trained workers

It's been a year since St Clair College took over the skilled trades program, which trains students to step right into the job. Now, the program's manager said he can't keep up with the local industry's demand for skilled workers.

'This is definitely what I'm meant to do,' said graduate Sarah Pare

Sarah Pare graduated from St. Clair College's Skilled Trades Regional Training Centre program. She said she now has a skilled trades job that she loves. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

While studying music in university, Sarah Pare worked as a butcher to help pay her tuition.

Facing rising costs, Pare was forced to drop out of school. While searching for better paying work, a friend suggested applying to St. Clair College's Skilled Trades Regional Training Centre program, even though she said she didn't know how to hold a drill.

The friend explained she would be paid while she learned and could get a job as soon as she finished the program.

The first few days were nerve-racking, said Pare, but then she got the hang of it.

"This is definitely what I'm meant to do," she said.

Sarah Pare talks about why she went into the St. Clair skilled trades program. 0:59

Pare now runs a computer numerical control (CNC) machine at New-Tec Tool in Windsor. She likes that the job is challenging and that every day she gets to make something different.

I love getting up and going to work every day and I didn't have that when I worked in the butcher shop,-  Sarah Pare, skilled trades worker

"Every part I make, you feel so good about it," Pare said. "There's so many details in some parts and you just want to make it look really nice and perfect."

The sense of pride she gets from her work makes Pare think she won't be changing her career path.

"I love getting up and going to work every day and I didn't have that when I worked in the butcher shop," she said. "I didn't even have that when I was singing."

One-year anniversary

It's been a year since St. Clair took over the skilled trades program from Valiant Training & Development Centre, who previously ran the course.

"We can train 300 people right now and it won't satisfy industry," - Michael Ouellette, manager of St. Clair's skilled trades program

In the 2017-18 school year, 49 students enrolled in the 46-week program, with another 10 students joining this month.

Michael Ouellette, the manager of the program, said even though students are enrolling he still can't keep employers satisfied. He said industry professionals are in need of more employees.

Michael Ouellette manages the St. Clair program. He said even if they can train 300 students, it still wouldn't meet the local industry demand for skilled trades workers. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

"We can train 300 people right now and it won't satisfy industry," said Ouellette.

The college is focusing on training students to be prepared to step right into a job. He said industry needs to focus on building their business and the college will focus on the footwork.

"I have 85 jobs in my hand right now that I cannot fill," Ouellette said. "We even have students working part-time after hours trying to help out the shops and they're very impressed with them and automatically have a job with them after they're done."

About the Author

Stacey Janzer

Stacey Janzer was born and raised in Essex County. Self-described Canadian treasure. She currently works as a video journalist at CBC Windsor. Email her at Stacey.Janzer@cbc.ca.