Unique Tool & Gauge begins moldmaking training program in partnership with schools

Unique Tool & Gauge (Windsor, ON, Canada) has initiated a structured one-year training program designed to lead to full-time moldmaking positions with the firm. “Our industry needs to find new ways to attract, train, grow and retain great young people,” said Darcy King, President of Unique Tool & Gauge. “For our first class of trainees, we’re working in partnership with the Greater Essex County District School Board’s Ontario Youth Apprentice Program (OYAP) and the Dual Credit Program associated with St. Clair College to develop what we feel is a great way to attract talented young people to the world of high technology manufacturing.”

Bob Clifford, hired by Unique Tool & Gauge as a mentor and trainer, talks to two paid interns in the company's apprenticeship program.

King stressed that the program is not limited to students; anyone interested in pursuing a career in moldmaking is invited to apply for the next class, which is anticipated to begin in six months.

The first eight trainees began work on Feb. 6, and those who successfully complete the program will graduate Feb. 1, 2019. Six are 11th grade OYAP high-school students, who are working on a one-year, paid co-op placement, while two are current dual-credit students in the St. Clair College general machinist program. All eight are working on a full-time basis at Unique Tool & Gauge and receive both salary and benefits.

Program participants will learn and develop skills over a broad range of disciplines, including computer numerical control (CNC) machining, computer-based mold design, electrical discharge machine (EDM) operation, critical tolerance machining operations and mold construction. The goals of the program are to have trainees placed in full-time positions in the selected department in which they excelled during their 12-month experience.

Following the conclusion of the program, the 11th grade high school OYAP students will return to their school for the final months of their grade 12 high school education and receive their diploma on time with other members of their class. Those enrolled in the eight-week St. Clair College general machinist program will return to complete the second half of their studies. Upon completion, successful graduates of the training program will come back to Unique Tool & Gauge, where they will assume full-time positions and begin their careers.

In addition to students from the St. Clair College Dual Credit program, students from Herman High School, Villanova High School and General Amherst High School are also participating.

Chad Thomas, Human Resource Manager for Unique Tool & Gauge, said, “We’ve assigned one of our master moldmakers to serve full time as lead instructor for this program. The most important aspect of the program is learning the safe operation of complex manufacturing equipment. Safe operating procedures and thorough knowledge of the equipment being used is built into every part of the program.”

Brad McIntosh, System Co-op teacher and Dual Credit coordinator for the Greater Essex County School Board commented, “This program is different. It’s almost a school within a job shop. These students will feel like they’re part of something they can experience together. I think Unique Tool & Gauge is on the right track in developing a new way of training our students. They’ve developed a wonderful program.”

Unique’s Darcy King stated that the company is “raising the bar” for the moldmaking industry. “This program represents a substantial investment on our part. However, it will pay off for us and provide us over time with a new generation of savvy and highly trained manufacturing experts,” King said. “We think there’s no better position than a manufacturing job and the young people we’re training today will have a bright and well-paying future ahead of them.”

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