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Northern College, Interfor partnering to close skilled trades gap

Renewed agreement between forestry products company and Timmins school allows for teaching, employment opportunities
On hand for the renewal of the Northern College–Interfor memorandum of understanding were (from left) Steeve Charest, Interfor's vice-president of forest and sawmill operations in Ontario; Jennifer Young, Interfor's regional manager of human resources; Lee Jacques, Interfor’s Timmins mill manager; Mitch Dumas, president at Northern College; Dean Lessard, senior vice-president of academic at Northern College; Pat Topin, Interfor's Elk Lake mill manager; and Tanya Ring.

Northern College and Interfor have renewed an agreement that makes way for educational and employment opportunities in the skilled trades in the forestry sector.

The Timmins school and the forest products company first established a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in 2019.

It paves the way for Northern students in the skilled trades — millwrights, heavy equipment mechanics, instrumentation professionals — to go on placement at Interfor’s Timmins sawmill, and for newly hired graduates to learn on the job.

“We enjoy giving students the opportunity to grow with us in a real-world setting, giving them the chance to apply learnings to practical application,” Lee Jaques, Interfor’s Timmins mill manager, said in an April 5 news release.

“This ultimately leads to the prospect of future employment opportunities within Interfor, and the chance for a rewarding career.”

The two parties said the agreement enables them to take a proactive approach to fill the gap of skilled tradespeople currently faced by industry.

“At Northern, we strive to create an educational environment for students that is informed by industry, creating work-ready graduates in each of our programs,” Mitch Dumas, Northern’s president and CEO, said in the release.

“Memorandums of understanding like this one with Interfor help us achieve that, providing fertile ground for mutual growth that will benefit all parties involved, as well as strengthening the regional economy.”