Many manufacturers in Midland, Penetanguishene, Tay and Tiny are in a position to grow their businesses, but the majority are struggling to find the skilled labourers needed to make it happen.

“We want to expand our business, but we can’t do to the fact we can’t find the skilled trades workers,” said Werner Ferreira, director of Streit Manufacturing. “We need a laser operator, but it is difficult to find people with certain skills.”

The Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe (EDCNS) estimates around 150 jobs were created in the region over the past year. A brief survey of manufacturers indicates that local businesses would like to add another 60 to 70 jobs in the coming year.

“We are certainly in growth mode,” said Roy Ellis, chair of the EDCNS board. “There are some great jobs and great opportunities in the ‘Heart of Georgian Bay.’”

For area manufacturers to grow, they need skilled workers including electricians, millwrights and tool and dye makers.

“It has been difficult to find those people,” said Andrew Cywink of Baytech Plastics. “We have had a really hard time getting skilled trades workers.”

EDCNS at Streit Manufacturing

Left to right: Roy Ellis and Sharon Vegh of EDCNS, Werner Ferreira and Heather Wilson of Streit Manufacturing, Andrew Cywink from Baytech Plastics and Mark Losch of North Simcoe Tool are all working to try and attract more skilled trades workers to the region.
– Andrew Mendler/Metroland submitted

Midland, Penetanguishene, Tay and Tiny joined forces in 2014 to create EDCNS. Since then, they have been advocating and speaking as one voice for all of North Simcoe. This collaboration has helped attract skilled workers to the area.

“We realize that we have an immediate need and we need to go and find talent fast,” said Ellis. “If we have to borrow talent from Alberta, Europe or Oshawa, that is what we are going to do.”

EDCNS has launched an extensive advertising campaign to try and lure skilled trades workers to Georgian Bay. There is even some focus on trying to attract GM workers from the closing Oshawa plant.

“A machinist or tool and dye maker can come into our building, produce a variety of things, develop, learn, amass a set of very transferable skills and know that there are many other employment opportunities within this community,” said Mark Losch, president and CEO of North Simcoe Tool. “A good tool maker will never have any trouble finding work.”

EDCNS is also trying to increase interest in the skilled trades among local high school students. This includes letting people know of the manufacturers in the community, providing a look at exactly what those businesses do and changing people’s mindsets on the industry.

“The trades have evolved. Technology has enabled us to do more, do it faster, do it more accurately and do things we could have never thought possible before,” said Losch.

North Simcoe Tool, which specializes in tooling, prototyping and small production runs, recently helped create some prototype bushings for the Canada Space Arm. They also worked on prototype drilling equipment for the Mars Rover project.

Streit Manufacturing tears cars apart and hand-builds armoured vehicles capable of withstanding sniper rifle rounds.

“Blue-collar is cool again,” said Ellis.

A job board on this website has links directly to all of the positions available at the 17 manufacturers in the region.