Brian Allen, manager of the skills development program for the Ontario Marine Operators Association (OMOA), provided delegates with an update on the skills shortage issue facing the marine industry in Canada at the association's annual Dealer Conference and Trade Show in December.
According to Allen, the key concern of the skills shortage issue is getting more OMOA members to sign up their staff for marine mechanic apprenticeship training. He reminded marine operators that if they sign up their employees, they may qualify for incentives of up to $5,000 as well as an $800 loan for tools and equipment.
Allen reported that more students should be trained in gel coat repair and electrical as well. “We plan to add a number of programs to the one-year programs at Georgian College,” said Allen. “They will most likely be modular or like electives. Ideally, members will be able to pick the courses they want to meet their specific needs.”
Allen also said that enrollment in marine-related programs is up 48 percent at Georgian College's Midland, ON campus in the last year. In an effort to further increase enrollment, the OMOA has also been approaching high schools, making presentations on careers in the marine industry. The association has also been inviting high school students to visit the one-year program at The Victor and Hazel Carpenter Recreational Boating Centre of Excellence at Georgian College.
“Tours are working phenomenally well for us,” said Allen. “Twenty-eight kids came back in June and 12 are planning to come into the one-year program.”