About the WILWorks High School Program

WILWorks High School offers a significant benefit to manufacturers struggling with labour shortages. Here, we examine several ways that secondary students empower each element of a manufacturing business.

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Finding skilled employees in the current economic landscape has been a major struggle for Canadian manufacturers throughout all industries. Labour shortages were an issue even before the COVID-19 pandemic, and, in this crisis’s wake, being able to locate, recruit, and retain effective workers seems overwhelmingly difficult. Fortunately for employers, though, a sustainable source of eager, engaged labour does exist — in Ontario’s secondary school system! WILWorks High School is an innovative addition to EMC’s existing Work Integrated Learning initiative; a straightforward process that helps manufacturers build connections with school boards across the province and access the vibrant talent of students ready to begin their careers. Through WILWorks High School, manufacturing businesses gain an invaluable pool of high-quality labour to utilize across each of their departments, and the opportunity to develop their future workforce’s skillset. Let’s examine some of the ways that WILWorks High School can empower and revitalize any production facility.

Consider that many existing labourers in the manufacturing industry are currently aging out of their positions. Without a steady stream of motivated workers willing to learn from them and able to replace them, the valuable knowledge and experience gained by these employees will be lost, which could significantly harm productivity in the short- and long-term. Secondary students are the ideal solution to this problem — as young professionals about to enter the workforce, this demographic is eager to soak up as much information and instruction as they can from their senior co-workers, and are passionate about applying and innovating on time-tested practices. Students that are unfamiliar with the manufacturing process, but are intimately familiar with modern streamlining methodologies, are also more than willing to offer a wide variety of fresh, unbiased opinions and perspectives on their workplaces that cannot be obtained by those deeply entrenched in static mindsets. Keep in mind that, as many of these students plan to enter the workforce directly following their high school graduation, the WILWorks High School program can provide training opportunities for these potential workers before they are fully employed, significantly reducing time and resources spent for onboarding.

The eagerness and passion demonstrated by students that participate in WILWorks High School is not to be underestimated. As young people looking to build strong foundations for their skillsets, these students are excited to work in a variety of diverse roles, including those that current labourers may struggle with. Fields like graphic design, marketing, and information technology require a deep understanding of modern trends, software, and resources to properly utilize and, with the knowledge these students hold from their academic backgrounds, they make prime candidates for these positions. Students’ abilities aren’t exclusively limited to these areas, of course — as previous WILWorks High School participants have discussed, they possess equal motivation for learning about activities directly linked with the manufacturing process, including welding, clean-up, and advanced machinery usage. Through a digital micro-credential provided by EMC in exchange for developing a broad range of specialized and transferable skills, students constantly maintain incentive to support the entirety of a manufacturer’s production line, and remain willing to collaborate with longtime employees throughout each of their host business’s departments.

The WILWorks High School program is an invaluable asset for manufacturers in need of driven, hard-working labour, an influx of new ideas, or a method of keeping irreplaceable knowledge and experience alive and active. Through prolonged interaction with and mentorship of student workers, leaders in the manufacturing industry can feel assured that they are not only receiving premium-quality support, but are keeping up-to-date with the next generation of their industry’s workforce.

For more information on WILWorks High School, contact Susan McLachlan, EMC’s Work Integrated Learning Project Coordinator. Attend EMC events frequently for knowledge and expertise crucial to leaders in the Canadian manufacturing industry.

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