It’s back to school for rubber!

By Pierre Olivier Girard, Le Reflet du Lac, January 29, 2015

To fill a shortage in manpower and improve training for new workers, industries operating in the rubber sector have joined forces to provide a new training course at the Centre intégré de formation industrielle (CIFI).

Requiring an investment of $92,400, this training course on how to set-up and operate moulding machines will begin on 13 February next in Magog. In total, 22 students per group will receive 1350 hours of courses in a work-study program. Three paid internships, totalling 270 hours, are also planned.

Up until now, training in this specialization was simply not available in schools of the region, so employers had to train newcomers themselves. A less than ideal situation, according to André Archambault, Co-Chair of the rubber sector committee.

“Previously, to fill 60 to 80 jobs annually, we had to deal with various employment centres, depending on their availability. We recruited people who had no knowledge of the business. We had to start from scratch. Now, with a school where the students learn casting techniques as well as rubber ingredients and processes, we are able to have students operational in a much shorter time”, explains Mr. Archambault, Director General of Soucy Techno.

With a diploma in professional studies, graduates will be able to work as set-up operators of rubber-processing equipment in various businesses of the region, including Sherbrooke, Waterville, Coaticook, Acton Vale and Granby. On average, the hourly wage is around $20 an hour.

The money invested ($87,500 of which cames from Emploi-Québec and $4,900 from the Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Exports) will be used to acquire specialized equipment, purchase school equipment and support the income of participants.

For his part, François Blais, Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, agrees that this project is in line with the government’s efforts to adapt training to the realities of the market in each region and not to the realities of schools. “We are working to achieve a better correspondence between training and employment. Remember this, because you will be hearing it more and more often in days ahead”, he assures.

His colleague Pierre Reid, MP for Orford County, says that over 29,000 jobs will need to be filled in the Eastern Townships by 2017. According to him, this statistic confirms beyond the shadow of a doubt that developing relevant workforce skills has become a priority for the region.

Inaugurated in June 2006 after being built at a cost of $6.5 M, the CIFI trains future set-up operators for companies in the field of plastics, rubber and composite materials.