Working together across departments, professions, and sectors to address the challenges facing the province is central to GNB’s vision, One Team One GNB, and one recent partnership is a true example of its benefits.

BWS Manufacturing and New Brunswick Community College (NBCC), in collaboration with WorkingNB and Opportunities NB (ONB), have developed a unique and shared approach to strengthening New Brunswick’s workforce. Together, the working group has created a specialized, in-house training program for welders that launched last month.

BWS Manufacturing is a heavy haul trailer company located in Centreville, New Brunswick. As a company with a growth-oriented mindset, it has been acquiring other companies to help facilitate its expansion. Last year, BWS added Stargate Manufacturing to its network, which resulted in its need to scale and hire an average of 20-25 new welders per year, over the next 10 years.

Recognizing the need to support economic growth in rural communities, ONB became involved in identifying potential solutions for the growing company. ONB engaged a core working group from NBCC and WorkingNB to develop a solution, including timelines and specific actions. Together with BWS, the working group positioned the framework to formalize and create a unique training program for welders, with the first cohort beginning last month.

“Collaboration is a key part of our day-to-day at Opportunities NB,” explained Sadie Perron, Chief Executive Officer, ONB. “We know there is strength in numbers, especially when it comes to finding creative solutions for issues that impact both business and community. With BWS, our team saw an incredible opportunity to engage the knowledge and expertise of our partners. Together, we developed a made-in-NB program that will strengthen our workforce, energize the private sector, and grow the economy.”

BWS’s partnership with NBCC will result in graduates that are ready to enter the workforce the day they finish school.

“NBCC is committed to creating flexible training opportunities that are responsive to the needs of New Brunswick’s labour market,” said Mary Butler, President and CEO, NBCC. “Accelerated skills development opportunities like this help New Brunswick businesses grow, and we look forward to playing this important role as our industries plan their post-pandemic recovery and resilience.”

The program, which went from concept to implementation in less than 12 months, is designed to have less classroom time and a more practical, hands-on approach to learning the welding trade.

“Employees are any company’s number one asset and as a manufacturer, we are looking forward to providing industry access to more skilled labor,” shared Todd Saunders, Vice President Human Resources, BWS Manufacturing. “The goal of this program is to have 10-12 graduates every three months.”

The new training is accessible to a wider audience, as some students may not meet NBCC’s regular entrance criteria, and it also provides a mentorship component.

“It was truly a collaborative effort to make this training program a reality at BWS Manufacturing in Centreville,” said Mike Watson, Workforce Consultant, WorkingNB. “I’m excited by the possibility of expanding this type of customized training to other industries to address employers’ hiring needs and/or skills gaps.”

With the first participants scheduled to graduate in April, the program not only serves as an innovative solution to a complex problem but as a collaborative model for a brighter, bolder future for the province.