MRO Magazine

Focus on training: New AC training unit will deal directly with skills shortage

Air Canada Technical Services of Montreal, Que., has created a distinct unit dedicated to the training of technical and safety professionals for the North American aviation industry.The new business, ...

December 1, 2002 | By MRO Magazine

Air Canada Technical Services of Montreal, Que., has created a distinct unit dedicated to the training of technical and safety professionals for the North American aviation industry.

The new business, called Tracor, addresses an expected shortage of skilled technicians in the aviation industry, with emphasis on various technical skills as well as management development and safety training. It was planned to be operational by late fall 2002.

The need to train qualified aviation mechanics and technicians is critical, according to the organization. Industry studies forecast that an additional 11,000 skilled aviation workers will be required in Canada over the next five years, of which a significant number will be required by Air Canada Technical Services to address normal attrition as well as the projected growth of its MRO business in North America.

“The sheer demand for experienced aerospace technicians in the future can no longer be met by relying entirely on community college training,” explains Bill Zoeller, vice-president, special projects, Air Canada Technical Services. “Tracor will address shortfalls in skilled professionals by offering specialized training programs and by partnering with community colleges and other educational institutions across Canada. We believe that an entrepreneurial focus on education will stabilize the human resource supply situation and provide technical industries with a competitive advantage.”


Along with classroom instruction, Tracor intends to use the latest technology to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of training. E-based training, for example, will incorporate animated, Internet-based modules that can be made available to employees in their workplace.

A website portal and Learning Management System (LMS) will also be used, enabling students to register for courses and provide them with information and options ranging from fee structures to course-content chat rooms.

Air Canada Technical Services provides maintenance, engineering, repair, supply and purchasing to support Air Canada’s mainline fleet of more than 220 aircraft, as well as other airline customers, in five maintenance categories: airframes, engines, components, line and aircraft cabins. It also provides material and supply chain management services to the airline industry.

It operates six major maintenance base centres located across Canada: in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver.


Fluke Electronics Canada of Mississauga, Ont., has donated a number of T5-1000 electrical testers to students in the Women in Skilled Trades (WIST) program at the Barrie, Ont., campus of Georgian College.

Fluke’s donation gives the women access to state-of-the-art, professional equipment to use in their training to eventually become industrial electricians. The Fluke T5 Electrical Tester is one of a family of electrical test tools that includes multimeters, clamp meters, power quality analyzers and insulation testers.

“The donation has allowed the students to learn various skills in classes and develop an understanding of the importance of using quality tools and equipment in the electrical industry, as well as an appreciation for tools and the care required for such expensive equipment,” says Joanne Cross, program administrative officer for WIST.

“Industry support of the WIST program is very important, as this is the second year Georgian has been able to offer the program. We are just starting to break the barriers of women entering non-traditional trades.”

WIST is a 50-week pre-apprenticeship program exclusively for women, offered by Georgian College in partnership with the Ontario Women’s Directorate.


Ontario’s secondary schools are facing a dire shortfall of technology teachers. It is expected that almost four out of 10 will retire by 2005, according to an Ontario College of Teachers study in 2000. The College forecasts estimate that 58 per cent, or 2,738, will leave teaching by 2010.

“Ensuring that every classroom in Ontario is staffed by a qualified and certified teacher is part of our mandate to protect the public interest,” says Ontario College of Teachers registrar Joe Atkinson. “Ultimately, the public — our children — will suffer if we don’t identify and understand the problems and find solutions.”

When technological education was overhauled in the mid-1990s, the focus on trades became less specific and over 50 courses, from auto body to cosmetology, were funnelled into seven broad-based areas. Along with this, teachers were leaving the system through attrition.

As former engineers, chefs, nurses and auto service technicians, the tech studies teachers bring real-world experience to the classroom. They are subject specialists who teach communications technology, construction technology, hospitality services, manufacturing technology, personal services, technological design and transportation technology.

School has huge technology shop

Examples of these teachers’ contributions to the tech world can be seen across Ontario. In Scarborough, the manufacturing technology teacher at Woburn C.I., Stephen Chan, has a 3,000-sq-ft shop that houses a hovercraft, a prototype of the world’s largest yoyo and cardboard boards that can float five students across a 25-m pool.

Markville S.S. in Markham boasts a communications technology teacher, Ryan Wineberg, whose students produced an award-winning TV commercial to combat teen drinking and driving and as a result were immortalized by the Royal Canadian Mint on a quarter. Guy Lamarre is the transportation and construction technology teacher at Denis Morris H.S. in St. Catharines, and his students constructed over 100 planes, trains, cars and puzzles as Christmas gifts for the community’s underprivileged children.

The students of Renfrew’s Bill Lunney, an integrated technology teacher at St. Joseph’s H.S., designed and built wind generators, one 9 ft in diameter, from recycled auto parts.

“What students use and learn in technology today they’ll use to power Canada’s workforce and economy in the future,” says Margaret Buchanan, faculty of education academic counsellor at the University of Western Ontario and chair of the Technological Studies Subcommittee, Association of Education Registrars of Ontario Universities. “Hiring experienced trade-savvy professionals to teach our young people is a priority in education.”

For more information on the Ontario College of Teachers, visit its web site at


The Yves Landry Foundation Awards of Excellence are presented annually to the Person of the Year; Company of the Year; and Program of the Year which best exhibit the highest degree of excellence in addressing the skills shortage in Canada, while striving to advance technological education as a viable choice for Canadian youth. The 2002 awards were presented at the STARS Gala on November 7, 2002, at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel.

Founded in 1998, the foundation is based on the vision, principles and hopes of the late Yves Landry, chairman, president and CEO of Chrysler Canada Ltd., Windsor, Ont., from 1990 to 1998. The Yves Landry Foundation provides the opportunity for business, education and government to, collectively, be part of a solution.

The 2002 winners are as follows:

Person of the Year: Co-recipients, Keith Eaman, chairman of the board, National Construction Inc., and Bradley Griffiths, vice-chairman, National Construction Inc., shared the award.

Company of the Year: John Mayberry, chair of the board and chief executive officer, accepted the Award on behalf of Dofasco Inc.

Program of the Year: Kelly Hoey, executive director, Halton Industry Education Council, accepted the award on behalf of

In addition to these awards, 10 more were presented at the STARS Gala 2002
to high school, college and university programs that best exhibited innovation and creativity in technological education and training to help prepare Canadian youth for a career in the manufacturing sector or in skilled trades.

For more information, contact the Toronto-based Yves Landry Foundation: tel. 416-620-5464 or 1-866-232-4411, or visit


In 1997 the Access to Professions and Trades unit of the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities undertook a research study about the characteristics and experiences of immigrant, foreign-trained professionals and tradespeople seeking employment in Ontario’s regulated professions.

A report, entitled The Facts Are In! Background, Summary of Findings, and Ontario’s Actions, that summarizes the results of the study, now has been released by the ministry. The government is now using this information to review its policies and programs related to immigrants’ access to regulated professions in the province.

Regulated professions are those for which the province has established self-governing bodies. They include occupations such as engineering, accountancy, law, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy and teaching.

The 643 immigrants interviewed for the study were selected randomly from a list provided by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The sample is representative of foreign-trained professionals aged 18 to 64 who arrived in Ontario after January 1, 1994, and who intended to work in a regulated profession.

The study reached the following conclusions about foreign-trained professionals attempting to gain entry into the Ontario labour market: Occupation-specific information about the Ontario labour market and licensing procedures is extremely important; Government of Canada visa offices and the Internet are two critical mechanisms for the dissemination of this information; occupation-specific official-language skills are useful in the job hunt; computer, occupation-specific and language courses taken in Canada are helpful; assessments of academic credentials are useful in helping foreign-trained professionals obtain a licence to practice their profession; and Ontario benefits most from foreign-trained professionals when their first job in Canada is in the exact profession for which they were trained, or a related one.

Both the full study and the background summary report are available on the Internet at


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