EACOM, Northern College sign MOU to develop a ‘talent pipeline’
By Maria Church
EACOM Timber president and CEO Kevin Edgson shook hands with representatives from Northern College today to formalize a three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) that should help address the Ontario forest sector’s shortage of skilled tradespeople.
Edgson, along with EACOM’s vice-president of human resources, Éric Larouche, signed the MOU at the college’s Timmins, Ont., campus. The agreement will give Northern College’s millwright, heavy equipment and instrumentation students access to EACOM’s mills through co-op placements, as well as provide scholarships and long-term employment opportunities after graduation.
Speaking to the crowd of local media, students, Northern College faculty and EACOM staff, Edgson said the partnership will help attract young people to meaningful careers in their northern communities.
“There’s probably no more significant challenge in front of us than demographics. Today what we’re challenged with is a labour force that’s nearing the end of their careers. What we have before us in an entire pool of young, talented, and excited individuals who are looking at entering into the workforce and propelling it forward – both through technology and passion,” Edgson said.
Aubrey Penner, Northern College’s vice-president of academic and student success, said the agreement guarantees EACOM access to the “talent pipeline” of skilled graduates.
“This collaborative approach is instrumental in solving skilled trade shortages in the province, attracting more students into these rewarding career pathways for employment with world-class industry leaders like EACOM. Northern College is very proud to join EACOM in this collaboration and development of a talent pipeline,” Penner said.
EACOM and Northern College both say the agreement is the first of its kind in terms of the extent of the partnership. It’s going to be a two-way flow of people, with students getting hands-on experience in a mill setting and mill staff sharing knowledge in the college’s classrooms.
As part of the agreement, EACOM is contributing $5,000 for the college to purchase a wood chip conveyor system to train students in the unit’s operation.
“The partnership is multi-faceted and it’s a first of its kind, but it doesn’t need to stop there,” Edgson said. “It’s going to be through partners like Northern College and continued contributions that they bring to the table that we’re going to find new and additional pathways where we can take the students of today and make them the workers and the leaders of tomorrow.”
Edgson told CFI sawmill staff will also benefit from the students’ perspectives when they spend time at the mills. “Young people come in with eyes open and excited about the opportunity. When you’re open to learning from them, that’s where the real value is.”