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A Student’s Perspective on WILWorks High School

To gather insight on the labour crisis and the Canadian manufacturing industry at large, EMC spoke to a student participant of the WILWorks High School program and compared her thoughts with expert recommendations.

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As the Canadian manufacturing industry continues to grapple with the effects of a nationwide labour shortage, alternative recruitment methods have become more prominent and appealing to employers. EMC’s own recruitment initiative, Work Integrated Learning (or WILWorks), has been crucial in connecting manufacturers with the production support they need through a vast network of post-secondary students eager to build careers in the industry. In response to WILWorks’ success, EMC launched the WILWorks High School program, which aims to build similar connections between manufacturing businesses and high school students. Recently, EMC representatives conducted a thorough interview with a student who participated in WILWorks High School to gather her thoughts on the program, her workplace, and what she learned throughout her placement. This student provided valuable insight into the program’s inner workings, and offered timely judgement on the Canadian manufacturing industry’s current state and future prospects.

The interview’s tone was an overwhelmingly positive one. Almost immediately, the student discussed the variety of her duties at her place of employment, which included plastic welding, material preparation, workplace organization, and general supportive actions, with great vibrancy and interest. Of particular note was the student’s enjoyment of advanced machinery usage, which, as she identified, was a skill that could only be developed in a manufacturing environment. Great attention was paid by both the student and her school body to the manufacturer’s safety and cleanliness standards; this business received a significantly favourable evaluation. Employee communication and collaboration was identified by the student as a highlight of her typical workday and, from the variety of guidance and advice she relayed back to EMC interviewers, her appreciation for these interactions was clear. This student also placed great importance on the recognition she received for her efforts from the enterprise’s senior management, and spoke highly of the importance of such acknowledgement for all employees — a motivation method strongly valued by retainment experts.

When asked to give her thoughts on the Canadian manufacturing industry in general, the student identified several areas that she felt could be improved. The business's shortage of manual labour was immediately identified — the student noted without hesitation that her co-workers were all significantly older than her, and recognized the dire need for new workers and fresh points-of-view on the production line. Many of the student’s ideas for addressing the labour crisis were strikingly prescient: she suggested that manufacturers emphasize their positions’ unique opportunities for skill development, recommended the promotion of employee-driven mentorship, and determined that, while advanced machinery and automated processes would be the major drivers of future innovation, certain responsibilities would always require skilled workers to fulfill them. Perhaps the most critical takeaway from this interview was that, while the student's experience with her business was undoubtedly beneficial, she did not see a future for herself in the manufacturing field, suggesting the need for stronger retainment methods and more effective messaging of the industry’s prosperity.

Having access to the thoughts and opinions of young professionals like the one featured here is a critical tool for modernizing and refining recruitment methods in the manufacturing industry. Through EMC’s WILWorks High School program, business leaders not only gain a motivated, passionate, and energized employee — they establish invaluable lines of communication with the future of labour in their industry. From this student’s responses, we can confirm the employment issues present in manufacturing, and verify the solutions to them from our workers’ perspectives.

For more on WILWorks High School, contact Susan McLachlan, the program’s coordinator. Attend EMC events frequently for knowledge and expertise crucial to leaders in the Canadian manufacturing industry.

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