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Economic Development News

Pathways to Production: New Training to Fill the Skills Gap in the Manufacturing Sector
Posted May-22-2019

A collaboration, consisting of Economic Development Offices from Brockville, Gananoque, Prescott and the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, along with the Employment + Education Centre (EEC), CSE Consulting, KEYS and St. Lawrence College, are pleased to announce SkillsAdvance Ontario has invested $500,000 in a project called Pathways to Production.

The funding will respond to the manufacturing industry’s needs by providing a pipeline of skilled employees to fill local job opportunities, add value to the local manufacturing sector by reducing costs and increasing productivity through retention strategies, on-boarding, coaching, mentoring and post-hiring support. Pathways to Production will support manufacturers in improving workplace culture of engagement which will assist with attraction mechanisms. This program will also be a catalyst to improved understanding of careers within the sector and how to best manage careers for success in the manufacturing industry.

“SkillsAdvance Ontario projects are designed to help both businesses and jobseekers in a region,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. “When you tailor a training curriculum around the needs of local employers and offer effective employment supports for the participating trainees, you can achieve outcomes that make a difference.”

Manufacturing sector employers in Leeds Grenville have indicated that there is a skills gap and those potential employees that are available are ill-equipped to fill their current needs, let alone their future needs. This is directly affecting their ability to maintain and grow their businesses. The Economic Development Offices of Brockville and United Counties of Leeds and Grenville have conducted research that statistically support this need. The area’s Employment Service Providers have tried to help manufacturing employers hire over 200 employees in the past 12 months and have noted the same concerns.

SkillsAdvance Ontario funds partnerships that connect employers with the employment and training services required to recruit and advance workers with the right essential, technical, and employability skills. It also supports jobseekers to obtain employment by providing them with sector-specific employment and training services, and connecting them to the right employers. SkillsAdvance Ontario embodies a sector-focused strategy that takes into consideration the dynamic nature of regional economies and labour markets, as well as the evolving requirements of different industrial sectors. SkillsAdvance Ontario projects provide the ministry the opportunity to test the effectiveness and efficiencies of sector-focused, partnership-based programming.

MPP Steve Clark states, “I’m glad to see local educators, trainers and employers stepping up to create opportunities in Prescott, Brockville and Gananoque. Through this project, we’re giving 50 people a fair shot at leaving unemployment and gaining good, permanent jobs. Whenever I visit a local manufacturer, one of the first concerns they raise is the need for more skilled workers. This is an issue we have to address as a region to attract new investment and I’m proud our government is supporting this effort to create a larger skilled workforce.”

Ann Weir, Economic Development Officer for United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, says “we continue to have a very strong manufacturing base in the Leeds Grenville.  Manufacturers were immediately open to working together to develop and grow their skilled workforce which ultimately positions the region well for the future.”

Sue Watts, Executive Director of the Employment + Education Centre, is thrilled that the manufacturing sector is engaged with the development of this program to ensure that the training specifically meets their needs and results in employees who have the skills, abilities and behaviours to make their business successful.

John Edwards, Director of Operations of Prysmian Group and one of the sector partners in this project indicates “Prysmian views the SkillAdvance initiative as a positive approach to help close the gap of skills and knowledge needed to help new employees acclimatize and succeed in our modern industrial environments. Employee engagement and retention is critical in the achievement of competitiveness. We recognize and support the value this program will bring by improving targeted recruitment, improved safety training and on-boarding. We believe these factors will help create pathways for success especially during the early stages of employment when people feel the least comfortable in a new environment. Prysmian continues to invest and grow in our facility here in Johnstown and we are grateful for such initiatives and the support we continue to receive from local and regional authorities.”


  • There are currently 20 active SkillsAdvance Ontario projects across Ontario.
  • Employment and Education Centre is one of more than 300 Employment Ontario partners across Ontario.
  • The Employment Ontario network offers a range of services and supports that help businesses find talent and connect jobseekers to training and job opportunities.

For more information contact:

Sue Watts
Executive Director
Employment + Education Centre
Phone: 613-498-2111

Education + Employment Centre
105 Strowger Blvd, Brockville, ON K6V 5V2