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Shortage of skilled labor escalates training costs.

Shortage of skilled labor escalates training costs

Due to the lack of skilled labor in Northern Ontario, at least one manufacturer is forced to absorb the substantial added costs of training employees inhouse.

Ed Bayford, assistant manager of Henninger's Diesel of Sudbury explained that, on average, it takes approximately four years to train an employee and, during that time, costs are approximately doubled.

Bayford explained that Henninger's has been able to hire "one or two" (qualified) mechanics in the past but the majority of its staff were trained or re-trained on the job.

Because of the shortage of qualified skilled labor, Henninger's has also lost staff it has trained to much larger companies such as Inco and Falconbridge, adds Bayford.

He said that often after expending the time, energy and money required to train employees, "they jump to Inco or Falconbridge for $22 per hour."

Although admitting that Henninger's has a job-application file "3.5 inches thick," the company can't compete with the wages and benefits offered by the larger companies.

In an effort to attract and keep skilled employees, Henninger's, said Bayford, strives to keep wages as competitive as possible.

While the company attempts to match the benefits packages offered by the larger companies, Bayford admits that the dental and optical packages are difficult to match.


To attract and hold qualified workers, Bayford said the company has also designed and reconditioned its building to maximize employee comfort.

"We try to provide a nice working environment by spending money on such things as proper ventilation," he said.

In addition, Bayford said he and other officials at Henninger's Diesel have a few ideas to solve the skilled labor shortage problem.

For example, Henninger's offers co-operative training to secondary school students. Students are given practical experience working at Henninger's while learning classroom theory at school.

Bayford said the students are encouraged to further their education at the post-secondary level.

He said the next logical step is to approach community colleges with the same proposal. Henninger's is currently discussing the concept with Sault College of Sault Ste. Marie.

"We (northern industries) have to get in step with co-op," said Bayford. "It's good for both sides. Students get the theory and the practical training at the same time."

Bayford said he would like to see co-op students alternate between the workplace and classroom every two weeks.

Using Henninger's Diesel as an example, Bayford explained that students training today only study certain aspects of the business such as fuel injection and automotive machining. He said that in a specialized shop such as Henninger's, the repair procedure is very intense, involving the complete rebuilding of engines. He said most people who are applying to work for his company are not trained in all aspects of the work.

For example, Bayford said there are no courses designed to teach the practical and theoretical principals of fuel-injection systems. However, there are companies in the north which rely heavily on this business. Henninger's has been doing this work since 1970.


Currently operating a head office in Sudbury and a depot in Quebec, Henninger's is planning to open another depot in southern Ontario to serve the foundry industry. However, the skilled labor shortage is hampering its plans.

In addition, the shortage is keeping the company from operating at 100-per-cent capacity.

"How can we go out and contact new customers and promise good delivery times without the manpower?" asked Bayford.

PHOTO : Ed Bayford, assistant manager of Henninger's Diesel in Sudbury looks on as co-op student Greg Maki rebuilds a fuel injector.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
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Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Manufacturing Report; includes related article on a Ontario Ministry of Skills Development report
Author:McDougall, Douglas
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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