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CITC training and upgrading keeps workers in the market.

CITC training and upgrading keeps workers in the market

In today's workplace, training and upgrading have become as vital a support mechanism as the coffee machine.

With rapidly changing technology and required skills, workers must keep on top of their trade or skill, or they may be left behind.

And, if a company lets its employees fall behind in their skill levels, it will be left behind its competitors.

Enter the province's 58 Community Industrial Training Committees (CITCs).

"The days of an individual getting a job with an employer in the various trades and working through to retirement are long gone," said Peter Maeumbaed, executive assistant of the Sault Ste. Marie CITC. "Upgrading has become a way of life."

Maeumbaed points to motor vehicle mechanics as an example of how technology can make skills outdated.

In Sault Ste. Marie the CITC was set up in June of 1987.

CROSS SECTION

In essence, the committee is a cross-section of volunteers from industry, business and labor which addresses local labor training needs.

It helps to address skill shortages in the local labor market and upgrade employees so employers can stay competitive.

CITCs were originally formed in the late 1970s as provincial advisory bodies on labor market concerns. However, their roles changed dramatically in 1985 with the Canadian Job Strategy, said Maeumbaed.

CITCs were transformed from advisory bodies to provincial non-profit corporations.

Government involvement comes from the Ontario Ministry of Skills Development, which provides a variety of programs which support and promote training.

Employment and Immigration Canada is also a key player, with programs provided through its Canadian Jobs Strategy.

Probably the most important element in the partnership, however, is the involvement of the private sector, which can contribute greatly to the success of the local committee.

The committee evaluates the growth of the community and looks for areas in which training will benefit employers and employees.

The CITC can help members of the community take advantage of available training programs. Employees are introduced to programs which improve access to training, while employers are informed about programs which offer funds to help them put training plans into action.

The Ministry of Skills Development and Employment and Immigration Canada programs are available to virtually every sector of business.

LOCAL PRIORITIES

The committee itself decides on its own local priorities.

In the past few years, construction has been area of focus in Sault Ste. Marie, said Maeumbaed. "There has been a construction boom in the local economy for the past few years."

The CITC is also seeing a need for good, qualified pre-apprentices in the trades. Its programs prepare individuals for entering the labor market at the year-one apprenticeship level.

The CITC is currently looking at local shortages of drywallers, qualified class A truck drivers, qualified cutter/skidder operators and heavy-equipment operators.

Maeumbaed said the thrust of the provincial government's involvement is to make young people aware of the opportunities in the skilled trades.

COMPUTER TRAINING

As for upgrading, Maeumbaed said, "We've seen tremendous need in the community in the field of computer training."

There is a need for such upgrading in small, medium and large businesses, and the programs offered are very popular.

In the computer field, a 20-week, full-time program is also offered for laid-off or unemployed people.

The CITC can help several types of people.

Skilled tradesmen and technical workers can take courses to keep up with technological changes and workers in other areas can upgrade their skills to stay competitive in the workforce.

Older, laid-off workers can receive training which would help them return to work.

Women re-entering the labor force can learn productive and relevant skills for today's market and young people can discover the lucrative prospects available in the skilled trades.

The training and upgrading programs are not set up on individual requests, but in response to requests from labor groups, industry or business.

"Their input is considered very valuable because they are the experts on their own needs," Maeumbaed said. "We are here to try to help them and they can greatly aid us to help them."

The CITC conducts periodic labor-market-needs surveys to keep abreast of changes and to identify problems in such areas as recruiting. The survey also are designed to encourage input.

In the 1988/89 year, 515 individuals took CITC training programs. In its first year of operation the number was about 300.

"We have seen a steady increase," noted Maeumbaed.

Courses have between 10 and 15 participants each. In particular, computer courses are designed to provide individual attention,

PHOTO : Peter Maeumbaed, executive director of the Sault Ste. Marie Community Industrial Training

PHOTO : Advisory Committee, works with volunteers from industry, business and labor to addresses

PHOTO : local labor training needs.

PAUL BICKFORD Staff Writer
COPYRIGHT 1990 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Community Industrial Training Committees provide retraining
Author:Bickford, Paul
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:May 1, 1990
Words:790
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