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Canada halts funding for plastics training

By: Michael Lauzon

November 27, 2012

TORONTO (Nov. 27, 2:10 p.m. ET) — Canada’s federal government has pulled the plug on financing for a plastics council charged with training labor for the plastics industry.

The Canadian Plastics Sector Council will suspend operations effective March 31 due to lack of funds. Federal Ministry Human Resources and Skills Development Canada was first informed of the cutoff in summer of 2011. The council, which was built on the premise of federal funding, does not have a fee-per-service business model that might have kept it going. The federal cutoff is part of a broad-based austerity drive to reduce Canada’s deficit, which is relatively low compared with other G7 nations.

Many of CPSC’s programs will be taken up by Mohawk College Enterprise Corp., a division of Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario.

“The past year for the CPSC has been one of retrospection and change,” the council said in a Nov. 20 news release. “With the completion of the essential skills project, the plastics processing industry now has access to a series of valuable and powerful tools that support skills training and human resource development.”

“CPSC played an important and valuable role in providing HR solutions, programs, and services for Canadian businesses and employees with the plastics processing industry and manufacturing sectors,” stated Carol Hochu, president and CEO of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association.

Deborah Lovegrove, spokeswoman for CPSC, said the council represented just about all Canadian processors, about 2,700 firms. It had an annual operating budget of about C$500,000 (US$500,000) plus additional funding for special projects

CPSC was set up in 2000, one of 32 national sector councils representing a range of industries, including forestry, mining, biotechnology and environment.

“Our mission is to enhance the competitiveness of the Canadian plastics sector nationally, and internationally, by helping to ensure that there is a sufficient number of appropriately qualified human resources,” Lovegrove said in an email.

Hochu said CPIA was active in CPSC and several of its members served on its board, including consultant Paul Waller of Plastics Touchpoint Group, Joanne Rivard of Ipex Inc. and Greg Wilkinson of consulting firm Third Oak Associates and a former CPIA president and CEO.

Canada has an unimpressive history in plastics training. Although its leaders have long decried the need for operators’ and mold makers’ training, few formal efforts have evolved and been successful. Humber College of Toronto, for example, had processing training courses but stopped the program several years ago. A few other community colleges run programs but learning trades on the shop floor is the norm for most personnel. In this vacuum a few private sector businesses have stepped in, such Canadian Plastics magazine with its one-day seminars on extrusion and injection molding. Trade shows also address training issues to some extent.