Holland College offers a one-year Precision Machinist program.
Most of the graduates tend to be employed in aerospace facilities or doing manufacturing and repairs in small machine shops which support the agriculture, fishing, and processing sectors across PEI.
New Brunswick Community College in Moncton offers a two-year CNC Machining program. Graduates of the program are hired to work in shops where computerized numerically controlled machines (CNC) are used. These shops manufacture machined parts which are sold to aircraft, telecommunications, and other industries throughout the world.
Ken Muirhead, Learning Manager of the Precision Machinist program in Summerside, says the best case scenario for his graduates is to continue their training in CNC Machining in Moncton. “If you want to work in a small shop, our one-year program is great, and we encourage people to take an apprenticeship and work towards a Red Seal. But if you want to increase your employment opportunities anywhere you live and gain the technical skills of the future, further CNC training is the best way to go.”
Ken says there are two aspects to the trade. “Manual machining is what we teach here. It is a one-year pre-apprentice program.
“CNC machining is computerized machining and all the many technologies that go with it. My graduates are eligible to enter the second year of the NBCC CNC Machining program, which teaches CNC machining.
“The number of our graduates entering their second year in Moncton is not as high as we would like. About one or two go on. The Moncton program generally has 12 students, and there will be jobs for every graduate, without question.”
Ken encourages students to take the CNC training, and long-term work security is the number one reason. “I personally spent 27 years in the industry, was trained in both sides of the trade, and never went without work. Even some of the smaller shops on PEI are starting to acquire CNC machines.”
“This trade is not hard physical labour like some of the construction trades. But machinists are on their feet all day and the hours can be long. Shift work is required in the larger facilities. If a person is in good health, they can easily work in the trade until 70 years of age or more.”
This year's class
Twelve students graduated from the Holland College Precision Machinist program in May. “We had three female students this year, which is a record. One came from the Trade HERizons program, one is a year out of high school, and one came on her own.
“The class was the most diverse I have ever had. The ages ranged from 18 to 53. This year we had three newcomers. The two students from the middle-east have math and geometry skills which are very important to machining. The oldest student is from Iran, has an engineering background, worked for 24 years in China, and is fluent in four languages. The other man is Syrian, lived in Dubai for six years, and has been in Canada four years. He previously worked as an LPN. They are both smart guys.”
Job prospects for Precision Machinist graduates on PEI
“One student finished the program early and is already working,” says Ken. “One student had an OJT placement at 3 Points Aviation in Charlottetown. This business has a high demand for CNC machinists, and hires entry-level candidates from time to time.
“Vector Aerospace in Slemon Park has always hired from our program. The shop at Vector has about 24 Machinists, and about 20 of them went through Holland College.
“The General Manager of Linkletter’s Welding did a presentation to our students this spring. They intend to hire two machinist students and possibly two electromechanical students for hydraulics work.”
Ken says college pre-employment apprenticeship programs are just the first step. “I think a student who wants to pursue machining or any of the trades should think long-term.”
Students need to ask themselves these questions:
- Where do I want to be in five years?
- What will it take to reach a more advanced level?
For more information, visit www.hollandcollege.com/programs/precision–machinist and http://nbcc.ca/programs–courses/program–details/cnc-machining.