An initiative designed to close the gap between what students traditionally learn and what industry actually needs in terms of skill is being rolled out in Sarnia Lambton. Katherine Walker, co-owner of two high-tech companies in Sarnia Lambton, is helping to spearhead the Youth Skills Connection Program (YSC) funded in part by the Ontario government, participating industries and in partnership with Lambton College.
Walker, who is President of IndustrialWebApps (IWA), along with Tertec, another technology company, is leading the Internet of Things and Modern Web Development section, one of five “streams” that makes up the YSC.
There is no cost for students who are accepted into the course, which begins in May 2017.
“We face increasing challenges in finding graduates with the essential skills that are necessary in our industry today,” said Walker, who jumped at the chance to help build a steady supply of candidates able to work at her growing companies.
IWA was awarded a software contract by NOVA Chemicals to deliver SHORE, as their commissioning platform for the $450-million expansion currently underway at the Corunna site.
Walker’s other company, iMAP Audits Inc. has built a software platform that provides industrial auditing for such things as asbestos identification, an area that is growing due to government regulations around the material once used routinely a multitude of products.
With iMAP recently signing a contract with a major Canadian transit operator, Walker has six employees but has a growing need for more.
In her stream of the YSC program, students will first learn about the Internet of Things principles, including system architecture and design, advanced troubleshooting and debugging, and deployment of systems.
In the second module, students will use the latest Raspberry PI 3 microcomputer as the platform to develop applications that businesses can use every day.
Once graduated from the 10-week course, qualifying students are offered an eight-week paid internship at local technology companies, says Walker.
Other offerings through the YSC initiative include:
—A five-day, two-course Enterprise Project Management module that focuses on training in Primavera P6, software that is routinely being used in Chemical Valley. Currently, post-secondary schools typically don’t teach the latest version.
—A two-week interactive course on Business Development, helping students develop fundamental skills such as prospecting, market analysis, customer relationship management, sales preparation, and closing.
—A three-section course on Biomass Harvesting & Logistics.
—A module on Advanced Materials Manufacturing, including sections on 3D Printing and Extrusion and Compounding.
Full information on how to apply can be found online at www.sarniaysc.ca.