Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium (EMC) is a non-profit national organization providing resources and support for Canada’s manufacturing sector. Since its inception in 1997, EMC has become Canada’s largest manufacturing consortium, helping the country’s manufacturers grow via its focus on networking, benchmarking, and best practice sharing.

Late 2023 saw EMC partner with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) to deliver an exciting new initiative for Atlantic Canada-based manufacturers – the WILWorks Youth in Manufacturing program (WIL = work integrated learning).

What is WILWorks?

April MacLeod, EMC Project Coordinator, says the goal of the WILWorks Youth in Manufacturing Program is increasing awareness of the manufacturing sector as a desirable career path for the region’s young people. Employers joining the program will receive mentorship training for current employees at no cost and a financial incentive of up to $2,500 for each youth work placement. The program provides eligible participants (aged 16-20) with funded industry-recognized training to support a work placement in the manufacturing sector. “The WILWorks Youth in Manufacturing Program gives employers a vital opportunity to introduce their company and all its various roles to the region’s youth,” says MacLeod. “It’s also a way to test someone out and potentially find new full-time employees, as one of our summer pilot project employers did last year.”

Program participants will access online self-directed training streams including 1) Manufacturing Foundations, which includes a look at topics like teamwork and accountability, and 2) Lean Fundamentals, which focuses on the sector’s continuous improvement principles. The two streams are approximately 6–8 hours each and offer participants digital micro-credentials which they can apply to their resumes and/or LinkedIn profiles.

MacLeod says participating youth also get a look at the business side of the industry and can leverage the program to move into not only roles in skilled trades, but in other areas of a manufacturer’s operations, such as HR, service, or marketing.

Interested in participating as an employer? Learn more and get started here!

The Centre of Excellence in Skilled Trades and Manufacturing

Like many jurisdictions across North America, New Brunswick has experienced labour force challenges in recent years. One solution aimed at better preparing our anglophone high school students for rewarding careers with local companies is the Centres of Excellence (COEs) initiative from Future NB, Future Wabanaki, and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD).

The fifth centre of excellence (existing COEs include Energy, Digital Innovation, Health, and Entrepreneurship), launched in November 2023, is called the Centre of Excellence in Skilled Trades and Manufacturing.

Joan Richard, EMC Operations Manager for Atlantic Canada, says EMC is the main financial contributor to this latest COE, as its mission aligns well with EMC’s priorities. “For a few years now, our executives and members have recognized a need to reach students and show them the viable career paths in Canada’s manufacturing sector,” she says. “I learned about the NB Centres of Excellence and I contacted them to explore the possibility of a manufacturing-focused COE. After several conversations, it was decided that we’d move forward. We are thrilled to see it now finally launched, and to have great NB companies like McCain Foods and Malley Industries involved as private sector partners.”

The COE offers a wide range of opportunities for students considering manufacturing and/or skilled trades, including:

  • engagement with industry through interactive lessons and activities;
  • participation in networking events;
  • engagement with the New Brunswick Teen Apprenticeship Program (NBTAP);
  • access to specialized training centres and guest speakers;
  • access to engagement days, micro-internships, and co-op placements; and
  • earning micro-credentials that will contribute to graduation requirements.

ONB recognizes that student retention is vital to helping our companies meet their current and future workforce needs. Our team is thrilled to see organizations like EMC and our COE partner groups tackle that reality with a robust strategy to give students real work experience with the world-class manufacturers we work with every day and to incentivize NB manufacturers to recruit more local youth with programs like WILWorks Youth in Manufacturing Program.

It is essential to demonstrate to our young people that many companies are doing great things in New Brunswick; they can be a part of something exciting and innovative right here at home.

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