The Ontario government is providing $8.7 million to Hamilton’s Heddle Shipyards to develop and implement the Ontario Shipyard Modernization Project. The funds will be used to invest in cutting edge Shipyard 4.0 technology and train Heddle’s workforce in Hamilton, Port Weller and Thunder Bay on state-of-the-art equipment.
The tools include 3D scanning, robotic welding, robotic blasting and coating, and virtual and augmented reality training equipment. More than 300 Heddle employees and 20 apprentices will be trained to use this latest high-tech hardware.
“The Ontario Shipyard Modernization Project will revolutionize shipyard operations in Ontario and Canada,” said Donna Skelly, MPP for Flamborough-Glanbrook. “It will also be a catalyst to capturing a significant share of federal shipbuilding contracts in the future.”
“In the next three decades, the federal government will be spending hundreds of billions of dollars on rebuilding fleets for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard,” said Shaun Padulo, President of Heddle Shipyards. “It is vital that Heddle and Ontario have a workforce capable of supporting our nation in this monumental task.”
The 12-month long project will continue to create thousands of jobs in Ontario’s shipbuilding and advanced manufacturing sectors decades into the future. It will also increase the employment of underrepresented groups in the industry including women, indigenous and racialized groups.
In addition, Heddle will develop a standardized curriculum for a Ship Repair and Shipbuilding Pilot Course with Mohawk College in Hamilton, Niagara College in Niagara Region, and Confederation College in Thunder Bay.
Data suggests that the need to replace retiring workers is greater for skilled trades workers than for other occupations. In 2016, nearly 1 in 3 journeypersons in Ontario were aged 55 years or older.