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What do you want to do when you grow up?

I can remember my Dad asking me that very question when I was about nine years old and my answer was, “I want to race boats.”

Why not? At that age, I remember day in, day out, staring at the boats that used to fly by our cottage on the Rideau River. I loved the deep throaty growling sounds of the engines and was fascinated by how a little piece of aluminum could propel those big machines through the water at such incredible speeds.

It was alluring to say the least. I was a dreamer. And my father, I know, got sick of me begging him to bring home product pamphlets from all the major manufacturers so I could study all the specifications, especially the horsepower of the motors — this was, after all, way before the days of the internet.

Over the years, I even developed a talent to identify a specific motor coming down the river, just by its sound.

When I was 16, my father once again posed the question. I still had aspirations, albeit not as grandiose, of being a boat captain, but my answer to him was simply, “I have no idea.”

At that age, who does really? You have your whole life in front of you and are likely more focused on prom dates and sports than you are on planning the rest of your life. “Well son, I know one thing. Go to school, get the best education you can and become a professional and get a good job so you aren’t working 12-hour days in a dirty job,” I still vividly remember
my father saying.

Professional what? I had no clue what that meant, but I did have a little experience in the dirty aspect since I spent most of my summers to that point cleaning filthy oil furnaces and I certainly didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life.

Two years later when it came to crunch time to apply to schools, my guidance counsellor encouraged me to apply to university for an arts degree for a year until I could make up my mind.

So I did.

And I went to university, and in the first year, majored in pool and beer and did very well both in my majors — gained 20 pounds and made about $400 in winnings — and also focused a little on higher learning.

I won’t ever forget getting a Canadian Studies paper back with no mark and COME AND SEE ME scribbled in ALL CAPS at the top of the paper. I made an ­appointment for the next day and had no clue how that meeting would impact my life.

I remember my young prof looking at me and saying how she enjoyed my paper; how it was well written, provided great arguments and how I made it colourful. In fact, she said she’d never seen a first-year student successfully
tell a story in an essay.

Then she said she had no choice to give me an F because I made it all up; I “­padded” my bibliography and I basically just wrote my own opinions down on paper, albeit convincingly.

In shock, because she was absolutely correct, I went into defence mode and said that I wanted to do something a little different, challenge the status quo and combine other people’s boring research with a new spin. I also challenged her to ask any questions from any of the books listed in my bibliography.

A half-hour later, I had successfully fudged my way to a C, but it was what she said in parting that sent me on a path to where I am today.

“You have a knack for storytelling and have skills as a writer. And you are very convincing even when I know you didn’t read any of those books,” she said. “I don’t know if academia is for you, but you definitely have a future in journalism.”

The rest you can say is history. My career path has never been charted, but it’s been both challenging and fun and has taken me from journalism, to politics, to business development, lobbying, sales and even graphic arts.

In a way, I didn’t choose the career path, I fell into it.

And that’s an all-too-familiar occurrence these days.

Take Jeremy Bout, the producer of eduFactor — a great initiative you will read about in this issue of 20/20. He, too, fell into his first career of being a CNC machinist.

But his love of storytelling, a knack for marketing and a passion for manufacturing has led him to what I truly believe is going to revamp the industry. “I realized that I had a unique skill set to allow me to do something about the lack of students becoming interested in manufacturing,” he tells 20/20.

And that skill set is needed. It’s not a big surprise that manufacturing has an image problem and kids often don’t think of it as a career of choice, given what we call the 4D stigma surrounding it — dirty, depressing, declining and dangerous.

With skills and in particular, people, being the major challenge for the industry’s future competitiveness, we need to get youth to consider all the benefits a career in manufacturing offers.

But the question remains: how do you do this successfully?

Bout’s mantra is the answer: “Everything starts with a good story.” And the narratives eduFactor broadcasts portray manufacturing as a very exciting industry.

It starts with high-end production videos that engage students, which Bout uses to link cool, every-day things back to manufacturing, and are followed up with a turnkey educational package for educators. But it’s more than just videos and school lessons, it’s about connecting with kids in a way they can relate to.

And eduFactor is the right tool for the job. They say hindsight is 20/20, but if I personally were exposed to the manufacturing stories Bout and his team showcase, I may have chosen a completely different career path.

But that was 25 years ago and a website seemed like the stuff of science fiction. High-end video production was left to major broadcast stations and YouTube was a freezie you bought at the local convenience store.

Times have changed, and we need to utilize all the tools we have today to change that antiquated mindset so manufacturing can be seen for what it truly is.

Manufacturing has to be at least on the answer list to that age-old question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”

And if we can change the perception of the industry one student, one parent and one teacher at time, that’s a story worth telling. Stay tuned.

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Budget 2015: Manufacturing Canada’s Future

Canada’s manufacturing sector has been something of an enigma over the past decade as the demand for oil and the country’s reliance on its export pushed manufacturing from the limelight. Though industry has seen record levels of investment in advanced manufacturing technologies and record manufacturing sales figures in recent years, negative attention has been cast on the sector

Despite being the workhorse of the Canadian economy, industry has traditionally done a poor job at sticking up for itself. However, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has stuck up for the manufacturing sector for almost 150 years and delivered a strong message to the government ahead of the federal budget.

“To counter the volatility in the resource sector, the future health of Canada’s economy depends on a strong manufacturing and exporting sector,” says CME President and CEO Jayson Myers.

Through research and advocacy, CME brought the issues facing industrial firms in Canada to the decision makers. CME has worked tirelessly to show the government that a renewed focus was necessary to drive Canada’s fortunes in the newest industrial revolution. Creating a strong, resilient and stable sector that allows upstart ingenuity to flourish onto the global stage in most certainly in the national interest.

“Canada’s innovation and productivity landscape has changed significantly in recent years, and now is the time to compare with other international jurisdictions and find ways to improve our capacity to attract major investments, especially in the manufacturing and other high-tech sectors,” Myers told the Finance Committee as part of CME’s budget recommendations. “Reductions in the business tax rate, the extension of the two-year write-off for investments in manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment, the elimination of import duties on materials and equipment used in manufacturing and the signing of key international trade agreements will set the framework for growth in the future.”

Budget 2015 set that stage for small- and medium-sized manufacturing and exporting companies to develop the talent and expertise necessary to redefine Canada’s most vital economic sector.

Through the 10-year extension of the Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for manufacturers, the manufacturing budget, as it has been called, provides a stable environment for companies to plan long term projects designed to improve the productivity and expand the capacity of their manufacturing operations in Canada.

“The ACCA’s ten-year timeframe will encourage new investments by providing greater certainty for companies that require several years to plan and put in place new equipment. And, because the tax allowance is extremely competitive in international terms, it will also help Canada compete for new business investments that will benefit goods and services suppliers alike,” said Myers “This measure will encourage manufacturers to grow in Canada by investing in the advanced production technologies required to boost productivity, compete in global markets and employ Canadians in well-paying jobs.”

Announced funding and programming includes support aimed at encouraging continued innovation in Canada’s vital automotive and aerospace sectors. Expanded support for trade and global business expansion supports growing global free trade opportunities. Advanced research funding for Canada’s educational institutions in partnership with a wide variety of industry sectors, reduction in taxes on Canada’s small- and medium-sized enterprise, expanded regulatory reform plans and infrastructure development all drive opportunity for Canadian manufacturers. Budget 2015 is a strong indication that government was listening to CME. Just have a look at our recommendations to the Standing Committee on Finance to see the influence our efforts have delivered.

By developing partnerships with other industry associations as leader of the Canadian Manufacturing Coalition CME gains insight. Working in collaboration with Canada’s leading universities, colleges and institutes provides knowledge. And, with the strength of a network of more than 10,000 member manufacturing and exporting firms throughout Canada, CME delivers the message that a strong manufacturing sector is vital to our nation’s economic well-being.

With educational programming, in partnership with Canada’s Crown corporations responsible for commercial development and expanded trade opportunities, CME seeks to encourage a more aggressive, expansive approach to business growth through international trade expansion and diversification.

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters is Canada’s largest and most influential trade and industry association. CME is also a membership driven organization. One that draws its wisdom from its members and is only as strong as its ranks; Canada’s manufacturing and exporting firms small and large, coast to coast to coast.

Budget 2015 delivered concrete results that will empower Canada’s manufacturing and exporting sectors.

Through its leadership, CME delivers results for Canada’s economic future.

Leadership makes the difference.

Join us.


Recommended:

CME’s Recommendations to the Standing Committee on Finance

Big wins for Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters in 2015 Federal Budget

Budget 2015 sets course for Canada’s manufacturing future: CME

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Next Issue: July–August 2015

BUY suppliers services and product guide 2015

Close deadline: June 5, 2015
Material due: June 12, 2015

To advertise, contact: Ronda Landygo — ronda.landygo@cme-mec.ca or call 1-877-880-3392

Click HERE to book now

BUY GUIDE

Ronda Landygo
Executive Director, Partnership & National Business Development
Associate Publisher, 20/20 magazine
Tel: 1-877-880-3392
Email: Ronda.Landygo@cme-mec.ca

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Standing on the edge: Redefining the traditional image of manufacturing

By Brad Fougere

Gnarly, man. It’s hardly a phrase that you would expect to be tied to manufacturing but, thanks to one Canadian, that’s exactly how the millennial generation is learning about the industry in schools across both the United States and Canada

“It all begins with a story,” says Beamsville, ON resident Jeremy Bout, the creator of the manufacturing industry’s best education tool eduFACTOR, a membership-based virtual library of high impact stories to inspire the next generation. This toolkit equips STEM teachers with real-life stories that make learning concepts relevant to students, giving tech teachers turnkey, hands-on Maker Projects and Interactive Labs as well as providing guidance counsellors the necessary tools to make informed decisions about future career pathways.

And with his X Games-style persona, Bout is the perfect storyteller — fuelled by passion and on a personal crusade to change the often ­misunderstood perception of manufacturing being a dirty, depressing, declining and dangerous industry, not to mention an often overlooked occupation.

One of the most inspirational stories told by Bout is the Metal and Flesh production, specifically the life-changing story of X Games snocross/motocross racer Mike Schultz, who after a tragic race accident in 2008 had part of his left leg amputated.

A few months later, Schultz discovered that the games had an adaptive version – for amputees — and he took a FOX shock and started working on a prosthesis that would enable him to ride his machines and to compete once again.

“That was the catalyst, it really got me going,” Schultz explains in the video. “I need to design something. I need to be out there with those guys.”

Many prototypes later, he devised a linkage system and went to the shop to manufacture what in essence would become the life-changing Moto Knee and the start of his company Biodapt Inc.

Like with any great story, Schultz couldn’t keep it to himself. He sent demo versions of his Moto Knee to a few people for product testing, including Keith Deutsch, an avid snowboarder before he lost his right leg, above the knee, in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Iraq.

“I got him all strapped in and when we got down to the bottom of the run and he looks over and gives me the biggest high-five,” Schulz explains. “Dude this thing is awesome, I haven’t boarded like this since I had two good legs.”

It’s an inspirational story about making a difference, but as the storyteller himself explains, it’s a manufacturing success story.

“Mike, through manufacturing, is touching lives,” says Bout. “It’s a great example of how manufacturing redefines what’s possible, and we see this all around us all the time. It’s a very exciting world to be a part of.”

Bout’s own story of entering the “exciting world” of manufacturing is an all-too-familiar narrative.

“The industry has struggled to get people to come through the door,” he says. “I was just a young man that fell into the industry, myself.”

Struggling to find a career path, he entered his uncle’s garage workshop in Orangeville, ON and embarked on a manufacturing tooling career that would lead him to help design and market private label cutting tools for a Buffalo-based manufacturing firm that are now used by thousands of companies around North America.

Bout had no idea what he was getting into when he entered his uncle’s workshop. He simply made the best of an opportunity. What started as a summer job blossomed into a 10-year long career in manufacturing.

Along the way, Bout started to dabble in marketing and design work to help drive sales of the custom tools that he’d been designing. As his passion for that creative work grew, he realized this was all part of a larger need facing the industry that had helped him find his way.

No one was telling the story of manufacturers.

“I realized that I had a unique skill set to allow me to do something about the lack of students becoming interested in manufacturing,” says Bout, who grew up in a musical family that spent time in production studios making recordings.

A career in manufacturing afforded Bout the means to assemble a new media production studio. As more and more of his time became devoted to the creative side of marketing the tooling solutions he was building, Bout started seeing his creative experiences in a new light.

“I knew I’d be unique to telling these stories because I was telling my story,” Bout says.

Edge Factor’s production and story-telling quality attracted the attention of educators, early on. Manufacturing programs finally had access to the type of materials that demonstrate the possibilities a career in industry holds.

“I had educators coming to us saying ‘This is really making our industry look hot,’” Bout says.

Armed with a range of productions shot between 2010 and 2014, edufactor.org, a Netflix-like platform for educational resources targeted directly at the manufacturing industry, was launched. Through key partnerships with the likes of Sandvik Coromant, Haas Automation and the Gene Haas Foundation, as well as Mastercam and a grant program with Purdue University, eduFACTOR has become a sought after platform by manufacturing educators, especially south of the border.

Combining impeccable storytelling with cinematic production values to tell the stories of the people and careers that are possible in manufacturing, the platform incorporates advanced manufacturing projects to provide a complete package.

“If we tell stories about things that people are passionate about, the stories will resonate with students and their parents,”
Bout says.

The addition of 3D printing and CNC machining lesson plans round out a package that drives value for the industry, for the educational programs that teach manufacturing and for the secondary educator who lacks a resource to demonstrate the infinite potential of skill building manufacturers provide.

“eduFACTOR is a complete educational package,” says Jeff Brownlee, vice president of public affairs at Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters. “Jeremy is brilliant at making the connection between manufacturing and everyday life and demonstrating that manufacturing can be fun and exciting. It’s a great tool for educators and business leaders to engage the next generation.”

Brownlee adds that CME’s members identify skills as one of the biggest challenges to their future success and that’s being amplified by the lack of young people opting for a career in manufacturing.

“Manufacturing has an image problem and we’ve tried many different ways to reach not just the students, but teachers and parents as well, to show them a career in manufacturing is high tech, high paying, high value and highly skilled,” he says. “What eduFactor brings to the table is what no one has been able to do — not just a way to connect and portray the true image of manufacturing, but an opportunity to get hands‑on experience.”

And that’s why CME is partnering with eduFACTOR to gift 200 secondary schools across Canada free access to the e-learning tools for a full year.

“This is a great initiative and partnership,” Brownlee explains. “By giving educators a turnkey solution to introduce manufacturing into their classroom, it’s filling a huge void and hopefully, getting more people engaged in the industry.”

And hopefully there will be many new stories to tell in the future.

“Jeremy’s right. Everything begins with a good story and I believe that this partnership is just the beginning of a game-changing story for manufacturing that will be told from Newfoundland to British Columbia,” Brownlee explains. “And I hope that story is gnarly, man.”

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Hands on: Savvy students craft innovative solutions through industry research projects

By Julien Abord-Babin

When one of its aerospace clients’ high tech‑sculpting machines needed new specialized memory cards, Hamilton, ON based Nexas Networks did something that might have seemed counterintuitive for manufacturers just a few years ago: it reached out to its local college. Looking for a fresh outlook in a rapidly evolving field where parts quickly become obsolete, the company approached Centennial College for their resources and expertise

After contacting the college’s Applied Research and Innovation Centre, Nexas Networks partnered with Professor Glen Taylor who worked with his students to design and prototype a new memory card. In only four months, they reverse-engineered the old memory card and built a newer, faster and smaller model. The new card was also cheaper to produce, at less than the quarter of the original’s price.

Tom Gaasenbeek, president of Nexas Networks was so impressed with the Centennial College team that he hired one of the student researchers. The company also has plans to commercialize the new product and is looking forward to more applied research projects with Centennial College in the future.

This is only one of many examples of manufacturers working with colleges and institutes to improve products and services in a variety of fields. In fact, according to the latest environmental scan on college and institute research activity, Canadian colleges and institutes are involved in over 3,600 partnerships with private companies, 77 per cent of which are small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) looking for support and expertise to develop new products and processes. About half of those are in the manufacturing sector.

Though colleges and institutes only started investing seriously in applied research in the 90s, their research capacity is built on a tradition of hands-on teaching provided by industry professionals with years of experience. In fact, colleges and institutes have always worked very closely with industry to ensure college curriculum meets the needs and expectations of employers. This includes making sure that colleges have access to the latest technology, which in turn can be used to experiment, invent and improve on existing products and processes.

The emergence of applied research projects at colleges and institutes across Canada has thus come about very naturally and has increased at an astonishing rate over the past decade. According to Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) more than 80 per cent of the association’s 135 member institutions have established infrastructure and policies to support applied research.

The number of specialized research centres and labs in colleges and institutes has also skyrocketed, increasing by 37 per cent since 2012-2013. There are now 670 of these research centres across the country, while colleges and institutes have developed institutional expertise in 1083 areas of research specialization in sectors as diverse as natural resources and energy, healthcare, information and communications technologies, social innovation and manufacturing.

“By improving their applied research capacity, colleges and institutes are now driving innovation in a number of fields,” says CICan President and CEO, Denise Amyot. “This is beneficial for Canada, for our communities and for the growing number of Canadian industries who are working in collaboration with our members to improve their products, services and processes.”

This is also beneficial for students who get to apply their skills and practice their problem-solving abilities by finding solutions to real-life challenges. This hands-on approach is at the core of the Canadian applied learning system that is renowned around the world.

Employers also recognize this as recent statistics show that over 91 per cent of Canadian college or institute graduates are able to find employment within six months of graduation.

Developing applied research projects is therefore a great way to add value to technical and applied education while preparing students for their future careers. It comes as no surprise then that they are getting involved with research in growing numbers.

According to CICan’s latest applied research report, a total of 32,093 ­students were engaged in applied research projects in 2013–14, up nine per cent from the previous year. That is a tremendous pool of young talent, eager not only to learn in direct collaboration with their potential future employers, but willing to take risks and innovate.

Colleges and institutes also allow them to work on a wide variety of projects, whether it’s cutting edge technology like a glasses-free 3D visualisation system for iPads, developed by students from Humber College’s Bachelor of Industrial Design, in partnership with Ooyavah Inc., or refining common objects like the new light weight skates that were perfected by students at SAIT Polytechnic in collaboration with Graf Canada Ltd.

In both cases, the projects were designed in partnership with industry in order to help them innovate in their market. Whether it is to design a brand new product, or to test and perfect one, most colleges now have the facilities and expertise required to provide support that might otherwise be difficult or costly to find.

In the case of Ooyavah’s 3D technology, the entire product was designed and then prototyped at Humber College where students were challenged to find the best way to apply the company’s technology. The team also collaborated with Sheridan College’s Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies who was able to provide additional expertise.

In the case of SAIT Polytechnic, the request was to test new equipment and assist in reviewing the manufacturing processes and materials used in the production of Graf’s latest line of ice hockey skates. The objective of the partnership was not only to improve the quality and cost of the product, but also to find ways to keep more of the company’s manufacturing in Canada. In addition, the college will help the company document the components and processes using Computer Aided Design (CAD) files, which will make them easier to share with potential manufacturing partners.

This very practical approach to problem-solving has helped countless companies improve their products and processes over the years and shows that, though research has traditionally been associated with universities, colleges and institutes have a lot to bring to the table. This is especially true of manufacturers who easily benefit from the applied nature of research at colleges and institutes.

The federal government has also noticed this market shift and has taken steps to encourage private companies to partner with colleges and institutes. On April 10, the Honourable Minister of State for Science and Technology, Ed Holder announced $40 million in grants through the Tri-Council College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program and the College Industry Innovation Fund (CIIF) Program in support of such partnerships.

Though government support has been going up, the funds available to colleges and institutes still only represents 2.8 per cent of the $2.96 billion in federal funding for research conducted in the higher education sector. Luckily, private sector contributions have also increased and colleges and institutes now count on over $207 million in external funding, up 12 per cent from last year.

The latest numbers clearly show that applied research in colleges and institutes is following an upward trend. A trend that has already changed how manufacturers engage with the higher education sector and might just be colleges and institutes best kept secret.

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Skills training programs break down employment barriers

By Naomi Bock

Marcon Metalfab’s newest hire Jennifer Baotic has a stack of forms to complete before she can get back to welding giant steel bins. An office administrator peers at the paperwork and notes: “It’s your birthday!”

Baotic is embarrassed and doesn’t want any fuss; she just wants to get back to work. But turning eighteen is a milestone, and hitting this marker of adulthood the same day she gets on the payroll at her dream job makes it all the sweeter.

“It blows my mind that I’m getting paid to do this,” she chuckles, shaking her head.

Only two months ago, her road to employment looked a lot longer. After taking a $600 six-class introductory welding course, she was hungry for more. She found a ticket track program that would also provide grade 12 equivalency, but the wait list was a year long. She hoped to land an apprenticeship but knew it would be tough hunting, especially in such a male dominated industry.

“Almost every apprentice they get, they just find a dude they know. Somebody’s kid or his friend’s kid… I don’t know many girls in trades.”

So when she was offered one of the 32 spots in Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters’ Welding Discovery pilot program, she jumped at the chance to prove herself. After five weeks of training, she started a three week work placement. Impressed with her drive, they hired her on.

It’s important to give youth a head start in an industry that needs them now more than ever, says the program’s manager, Beatrice Gill. Noting the current labour shortfall, she says few parents encourage their kids to become welders anymore.

“There’s a perception that it’s dirty and low paid,” she says. “But I know welders with homes paid off before they turn thirty!”

Austin Shears, owner of O.T. Fabricating, says he’s seen a shift over the last 20 years since the internet began booming.

“The trades got swept to the side, but things still need to be built,” he shrugs. After taking over his father’s business, he wanted to become a mentor in turn. He was grateful when Gill sent him Hunter Edwardson, a hardworking 18-year-old from British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, who “can’t sit in an office chair”, and now welds with Shears’ company full time. It’s a big investment to train new hires, but the program provided a way to test prospects.

Before starting the program, Ambrose Yeltatzie, a 25-year-old from Haida Gwaii, BC, didn’t think he’d ever break into welding. With a family to support, he couldn’t take on unpaid apprenticeships. He was placed (and subsequently hired) at York Aluminum in Richmond, BC. It’s close enough to home that his partner and their baby daughter stop by for lunch today.

“It feels like I have my foot in the door now,” he beams. “It’s changed me. Before, I was so frustrated. Now I’m a lot more positive, just happier.”

Welding Discovery isn’t the only CME program helping newer members of the workforce overcome employment barriers. Communication in the Workplace brings ESL training to the production floor, while also helping resolve the kinds of cross-cultural misunderstandings that can go beyond language literacy. Program instructor Jodie Torhjelm experienced just this when one manager didn’t understand why some of his female Chinese workers wouldn’t come when beckoned, until she explained it was an obscene gesture to them. At another company, shell-shocked Iranian refugees were afraid to even ask for a broom. Now they’re a lot more confident and comfortable — one graduate even got promoted to team leader.

Torhjelm shares some feedback from the latest group of participants at Arc’teryx’s North Vancouver factory. Things have gotten a lot more efficient, according to supervisors who used to have to explain basic machine labels. Winnie, a shy seamstress from China, is thrilled she can finally understand what’s going on at team meetings.

“It’s incredibly rewarding as a teacher,” Torhjelm says. “You can even see it in the way they carry themselves going from hunched, eyes down, to walking tall with smiles on their faces.”

Funding for these projects was provided by the Government of Canada through the Canada British Columbia Job Fund.
Check out the CME website for more program details:
http://bc.cme-mec.ca/british-columbia/programs/labour-market-programs.html

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Educating today’s youth ArcelorMittal Dofasco to train high school students in advanced steel manufacturing

by James Careless

Hamilton, ON steelmaker ArcelorMittal Dofasco is taking definitive action to attract, train and hire the skilled new employees it requires. To achieve this, the company has struck a collaborative partnership agreement with the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) and Mohawk College to create the Specialist High Skills Major Program in Advanced Manufacturing for HWCDSB high school students

Slated to launch in September 2015, this program will train HWCDSB Grade 11/12 students in advanced manufacturing ­science, methods and practices. At the end of the program, graduates will receive Specialist High Skills Major Red Seals from the Ontario Ministry of Education on their high school diplomas. Their high school transcripts will include their High Skills Major designation and that they participated in the advanced manufacturing program sector unit. A third page appendix will be added to their high school transcript that lists their High Skills Major certifications and courses. These certifications will allow course graduates to pursue employment at ArcelorMittal Dofasco, enroll in ­apprenticeships related to advanced manufacturing and/or further their advanced manufacturing skills through post-secondary education.

“Students from all high schools in the board will have an opportunity to engage in the program which will be hosted at two Hamilton high schools — Bishop Ryan Secondary School and St. Jean de Brebeuf Secondary School,” says Tony Valeri, ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s vice president of corporate affairs. “We anticipate 80 to 100 students will participate and the program will give them an opportunity to explore advanced manufacturing.”

ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s course is meant to introduce practical manufacturing education into the HWCDSB’s high school classrooms, by providing students with the training, knowledge and entry-level skills to consider a career in manufacturing. On a broader scale, the program will give these students the informed opportunity to pursue well-paying manufacturing jobs right in their hometown. At a time in life when most teenagers have no idea what they want to do with their futures, this introduction to advanced manufacturing will present many students with a tangible career path.

In order to create a well-rounded, educationally sound and interesting Specialist High Skill Major Program in Advanced Manufacturing, ArcelorMittal Dofasco is providing real world expertise to the HWCDSB and Mohawk College as the latter shape the course’s content and lesson plan. As well, ArcelorMittal Dofasco will provide staff as mentors, guest speakers and career advisors, provide opportunities for experiential learning through workplace tours and simulated experiences in controlled labs or simulated environments, and knowledge of the steel industry and workplace expectations.

“We will also deliver training for students on site at ArcelorMittal Dofasco in such areas as workplace specific WHMIS, confined space awareness, lockout/tagging, fall arrest, PPE, safe lifting and propane safety,” says Valeri. “We’ll also support the HWCDSB’s First Robotics clubs and competitions within the Board.”

That’s not all: ArcelorMittal Dofasco will work with HWCDSB to review the Board’s existing curriculum, to see where specific lessons related to advanced manufacturing (like steelmaking) can be integrated into the current technology curriculum of manufacturing, math and science. This will give the general student body some real-world examples of how the local steel industry interacts with these areas, and inspire some of them to take the Specialist High Skill Major Program in Advanced Manufacturing.

Taking a big Picture perspective, ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s Specialist High Skills Major Program in Advanced Manufacturing is an excellent example of what smart manufacturers can do to address their recruitment needs; not just today, but for the long-term. By working closely with local educators, ArcelorMittal Dofasco has aligned its skills requirements with the HWCDSB’s mission to equip its high school students for life. This integration will give the manufacturer’s needs higher profile in the region’s educational system and extend its employee recruitment efforts into the total HWCDSB student body. To say the least, ArcelorMittal Dofasco is thinking big and long-term when it comes to addressing its skilled employee needs.

Moreover, ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s Specialist High Skills Major Program in Advanced Manufacturing is designed to be a win-win-win “for the school Board, teachers, the students and for ArcelorMittal Dofasco,” Valeri notes. “The expertise of our people will benefit teachers and students by enhancing curriculum and learning opportunities, while the exposure of the career opportunities can benefit ArcelorMittal Dofasco in its recruiting efforts as we continue to look to hire the best and brightest across a host of technical and skilled areas.”

The 2015-2016 school year will serve as the proving ground for ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s Specialist High Skills Major Program in Advanced Manufacturing. If the program succeeds, the Hamilton steelmaker intends to offer it to other school boards in the region.

One thing is certain: ArcelorMittal Dofasco is taking a proactive and responsible approach to addressing its skilled employee requirements, rather than waiting for educational institutions, trade associations and government to take the lead on this extremely pressing issue. Other Canadian manufacturers should consider following ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s innovative example. The company is certainly open to working with additional industry partners.

Photo of young people training

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Government programs aid the search for skilled employees

By James Careless

Canadian governments are stepping up to help our manufacturers find the skilled workers they need. The Canada Job Grant program, managed by Employment and Social Development Canada, is a federal initiative that helps companies train new or existing staff to fill skills gaps

Created in consultation with many industry associations — including CME — the Canada Job Grant pays two-thirds of each employee’s training costs (up to $10,000). The employer covers the remaining one-third of costs.

The Canada Job Grant leaves it to employers to determine which specific skills their new and existing employees are lacking. Training must be provided by qualified third-party trainers, but it can be held at the employer’s workplace, online or at an off-site location like a classroom. Eligible costs include tuition, mandatory and other fees charged by training providers including textbooks, software and other required materials and examination fees.

Small businesses with 50 or fewer employees have the option of making flexible arrangements when it comes to covering this cost, says the Canada Job Grant website, “such as the potential to count wages as part of their employer contribution.” (The Canada Job Grant website is located at www.esdc.gc.ca/eng/jobs/training_agreements/cjg/index.shtml.) Even the smallest of CME members should consider tapping into the Canada Job Grant.

“The Canada Job Grant is an enormous opportunity to improve the skills and technical abilities of millions of Canadians working in the manufacturing sector, and offers the promise of enriching the entire Canadian labour pool,” says Jayson Myers, CME’s president and CEO. “We believe that the Canada Jobs Grant will be an important first step towards resolving the skills gap that, at present, costs the manufacturing sector tens of billions of dollars annually.”

Applications for the Canada Job Grant are handled on a province-by-province basis. Details on how to apply can be found at www.esdc.gc.ca/eng/jobs/training_agreements/cjg/info.shtml

Canadian manufacturers should also look to provincial governments for assistance. A case in point: Workplace Education Manitoba (WEM; http://wem.mb.ca) has been helping employers improve their employees’ skills since 1991. “WEM works with companies in identifying workplace issues such as quality, safety and others, and then determines the root causes of issues related to deficiencies in employees’ ‘Essential Skills,’” says Ron Koslowsky, CME Manitoba’s vice president. “Armed with this, WEM then develops training for employees needing help with these Skills to improve their outcomes.”

As identified by more than 3,000 people in a federal government survey, the Nine Essential Skills measured by WEM are Reading, Document Use, Numeracy, Writing, Oral Communication, Working With Others, Thinking, Digital Technology and Continuous Learning. Possessing such skills — and upgrading those that show deficits — maximizes employees’ ability to be effective, efficient and productive at work, thereby improving their employer’s overall performance and profitability.

The payoff for increasing a workplace’s employee skill levels is substantial. As the WEM website notes, “For Manitoba, this translates to over $500 million more per year. For workers, this means more choices in the labour market, while for business and the government, this means being able to better compete in local, national and international markets.” The application process can be started by going to www.wem.mb.ca/contact.aspx.

Again, CME members should check out what every level of government has to offer. A quick call to the member’s local MP and MPP offices can be a good way to kick-start the process. So too can calling or emailing your local CME office, because helping members get the government assistance they are entitled to is a core part of the CME’s mandate. (The CME’s contact page is at www.cme-mec.ca/english/who-we-are/executive-leadership.html.)

“Our governments want to see manufacturers succeed in dealing with the skills gap, because solving this problem is good for the economy and job creation” says Mathew Wilson, CME’s vice president of national policy. “We are here to help our members connect to these government programs, make progress today in training new employees and enhance the skills of the employees they already have.”

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Problem solving: The challenge of skilled employees

By James Careless

More than ever, CME member companies are desperately seeking skilled employees, ranging from entry-level hires to experienced managers. In fact, slightly less than 56 per cent of all companies who responded to CME’s 2014 Management Issues Survey (MIS-2014), said that they are facing labour and skills shortages right now

Worse yet, “with continued changes in demographics and difficulties in labour mobility, these shortages will almost certainly become more severe, impacting future productivity and growth prospects across Canada,” states in MIS-2014. “Indeed, the share of companies reporting labour and skills shortages has risen by seven percentage points since the 2012 survey. Shortages were most frequently reported by companies operating in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.” (The full report is available at www.cme-mec.ca/download.php?file=504c5iiu0.pdf.)

There are a number of factors driving the current skilled labourer shortage for Canadian manufacturers. They include economic growth that is increasing competition for skilled employees, an aging population that is retiring out of the workforce and a public education system that is not producing enough replacement skilled workers, especially in the trades. Add the fact that manufacturing jobs are not accorded the same respect as white collar positions — both in society in general and the youth-shaping mass media in particular — and the result is a perfect storm for Canada’s manufacturing sector.

“On a strategic basis, Canadian manufacturers are having a hard time finding managers with the leadership and problem-solving skills to take their business forward,” says Mathew Wilson, CME’s vice president of national policy. “On the operational level, it is often difficult to find entry-level employees who have the basic skills needed for full-time work. This includes simple yet vital things such as showing up every day on time, sticking with tasks in a consistent and diligent manner and taking pride in one’s work — whatever it may be.”

Ron Koslowsky is CME Manitoba’s vice president, and a person who takes an active interest in helping his members locate, hire and retain skilled employees. In doing so, he has become intimately acquainted with the hiring challenges Canadian manufacturers face – and they are many.

“Problem-solving is the number one skill that’s missing from today’s manufacturing employees, both in new hires and existing employees,” Koslowsky says. “They find it difficult to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B, when there isn’t an existing procedure in place. This is a real issue for manufacturers at a time when resources are stretched and competition is increasing. They need employees with the ability to think creatively and actively solve problems, rather than wait passively for management to tell them what to do.”

Computer literacy is also a big issue for new hires, a fact that astounds Ron Koslowsky given the younger generation’s obsession with smartphones and social media. “Today’s new hires understand very little about the technology they use everyday,” he says. “Working with documents and spreadsheets mystifies many of them. So does doing anything beyond Web surfing and emailing. They do not know the nitty-gritty of setting up and working with computer technology.”

In the same vein, today’s entry-level employees are unaccustomed to reading technical documents. This is a deficit that impedes their usefulness at a time “when manufacturers need new hires to become productive within the work environment relatively quickly,” says Joanne Heighway, CME’s vice president of organizational excellence. “It is expected that you will have to train new people in your company’s specific processes and procedures, but manufacturers are having a hard time getting them to absorb and then apply this knowledge in a timely manner.”

Unfortunately, the secondary school system is also failing Canada’s manufacturers. “We are getting high school graduates who do not know how to do math,” says Ron Koslowsky. “We are also seeing shortfalls in reading comprehension and writing skills. This means that manufacturers find themselves addressing skills issues at the most basic of levels — and having to bridge these gaps in one way or another.”

While this is going on, Canada’s manufacturers need skilled employees capable of implementing sophisticated management techniques such as LEAN. “In today’s competitive world market, our manufacturers have to reduce costs while maintaining and enhancing quality,” says Mathew Wilson. “Skilled employees are central to making this happen: management alone can’t drive these kinds of necessary changes.”

Alongside government, business and labour, CME has been working at addressing the issues noted above through a range of initiatives. To say the least, this is a massive endeavour that will require years of effort on the part of all players. “But we have to do it, we have to solve the skills issue,” says Wilson. “Having access to skilled labour is absolutely crucial to our manufacturers achieving the growth and profitability they are capable of — not just in Canada, but on the world stage.”

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Millennials in Canadian manufacturing: building is key to the best and brightest

By Emerson Csorba and Eric Termuende

In January 2014, a young Canadian named Sameer Dhar left the well-worn path toward a career in finance in order to build a healthcare tech company called Sensassure. Developing a proprietary solution to address incontinence management challenges in Canada’s rapidly-aging society, Dhar was named the top overall entrepreneur in Canada’s prestigious Next 36 program, and has been building the business ever since

Formerly one of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 recipients, and a finance major at the University of Alberta, Sameer Dhar could have selected any career path, but he chose to develop a product in the healthcare sector and hopes to have it manufactured in Canada one day. Though he may have taken an unconventional route, Dhar is well on his way to success, and is an example of how Canadian-based startups want to manufacture and create jobs here in Canada.

As of 2015, millennials are now the largest generational segment in the workplace. And in just ten years, the proportion of millennials in the total workforce will climb to 75 per cent. Companies that fail to develop strategies to attract and retain talented millennials will experience employee turnover (costing in the area of $20,000 per staff member, as per research conducted by Millennial Branding) and could see many of their current efforts go to waste due to poor workplace culture and internal knowledge transfer.

Many Canadian manufacturers struggle to create workplace cultures conducive to both attracting and retaining standouts like Dhar. In ThomasNet’s 2014 Industry Market Barometer, 62 per cent of North American manufacturing executives surveyed said millennials (those in the 18-35 age range) represent only a small fraction of their workplace, and 81 per cent indicated they have no plans in place to increase these numbers. Inaction in improving talent attraction and retention initiatives in the present can therefore cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars in the short-to-medium term, particularly for companies looking to hire large numbers of young workers.

Thankfully, manufacturing executives and workplace culture leaders have the potential to attract and retain the top 10 per cent of talent Canada has to offer. Although manufacturing may not seem as appealing at a first glance as fields like tech and finance, the sector has significant advantages that can be leveraged: a focus on building, and promotion of technological innovation through 3D printing and wearable technologies.

Our work in Gen Y Inc. shows time and time again that Canada’s millennials are builders. Infused with a maker or do it yourself (DIY) culture, university students and young professionals alike are keen to join organizations that allow them to collaborate; they want to become members of teams that build innovative cultures and products together. In Edmonton, for instance, the city has undergone a tremendous change in brand and identify through a movement, Make Something Edmonton, capitalizing on young citizens’ spirit, where the average age of an Edmontonian is just 37. Hundreds of students at the University of Alberta, MacEwan University and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology are involved in the Make Something Edmonton movement. These young ­leaders have much to offer to many ­manufacturing companies.

Innovative tech, including 3D printing and wearable technologies are now front of mind for many young millennials, whether they are in engineering, computing science, marketing or even in the liberal arts fields such as economics and philosophy. Moreover, Toronto is now viewed as a leading North American city in wearables, recently earning The Globe and Mail’s recognition in a feature article entitled “Why Toronto is a hotbed of pioneering wearable technology”.
The Ryerson Digital Media Zone, for instance, is a hot-bed of entrepreneurial talent, and is coincidentally where Dhar and his team at Sensassure work.

Manufacturers cannot ignore that they must now compete across sectors for the best and brightest talents. Yet, with evaluation, assessment and action focused on workplace culture and opportunities for innovation, they can move leaps and bounds forward.

Emerson Csorba and Eric Termuende are Directors of Gen Y Inc., a fast-growing Canadian workplace culture consultancy focused on multigenerational engagement and talent attraction. They are both World Economic Forum Global Shapers and co-lead Canada’s Emerging Leaders Network. They are pleased to contribute regular columns to CME’s 20/20 magazine, sharing best practices and stories from Canada’s manufacturing sector.
Emerson can be contacted at csorba@genyinc.com.

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Finding a Path2Work and skilled labour: CME delivers

By James Careless

CME members know that finding good skilled help is hard to do, whether these members are looking for entry‑level hires or seasoned workers with manufacturing experience. This is why CME offers programs and advice to its members to make this search much easier

A case in point: There are many skilled immigrants living in Canada whose only barrier to working in their trades here is a lack of appropriate Canadian experience. CME’s Path2Work program (www.path2work.ca) is designed to match Internationally Trained Engineers (ITEs), Technicians and Technologists (ITTs) with employers to help address skill shortages and to help improve employers productivity and operational excellence.

The Path2Work matchmaking service is entirely free for potential employers and job seekers alike. New Canadians who are internationally trained have a better opportunity to be placed in meaningful jobs that allow them to utilize their education and experience as well as demonstrate their competencies and skills.

“Path2Work helps skilled immigrants gain the necessary experience to be accredited in Canada, while the companies who hire them get knowledgeable, skilled and motivated engineers, technicians and technologists,” says Diane de Jong, Path2Work’s Ontario program director. “These immigrants are already permanent residents of Canada, so they are a reliable pool of long-term employees.”

CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machinists are in short supply across Canada. This is why the Ontario Manufacturing Learning Consortium (OMLC) has created a 26-week CNC training course aimed at entry-level youth ages 18-29. (The OMLC is comprised of CME, the Ontario Aerospace Council, the Canadian Tooling and Machining Association and the Canadian Nuclear Council.)

The CNC Machinist Level 1 Training Program provides youth with classroom training and employer-supported ‘earn-as-you-learn’ on-the-job training, so that they can learn CNC machining skills to earn CNC Machinist (Level 1) certification. This program will provide youth with an opportunity to begin their careers in the manufacturing industry with knowledge, skills, abilities and workplace values that are valued by the employer. The program will also ‘open doors’ to visit leading edge manufacturers to expose high school students to career opportunities within the manufacturing sector.

The program is supported by Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure (MEDEI) — Youth Skills Connection Program and provides manufacturers with a $8,000 payment to support each youth hired under the program. To participate (last call for June 2015), contact Diane de Jong at diane.dejong@cme-mec.ca or (905) 672-3466 ext. 3260. Visit: www.omlc.ca.

On a broader scale, the CME’s iCME job board (www.icme.ca) is a convenient web portal that brings together potential employees and Canadian manufacturers. The site helps job seekers create concise and consistent online 200-word resumes, which can be reviewed when they apply to jobs posted on this national site by CME members.

“Attracting and retaining qualified employees is the most significant challenge jeopardizing economic growth, and the gap will not be limited to any one sector,” notes Jayson Myers, CME’s president and CEO. Citing the iCME job board as an example, he added, “It’s critical we centralize our efforts to identify and promote these in-demand career opportunities to the next generation of Canada’s workforce.”

Of course, the CME can only do so much to help its members find skilled employees. This is why the association encourages Canadian manufacturers to reach out to their communities for assistance.

For instance, “Your local community colleges, trade schools and universities can be great partners for finding and training new talent,” says Mathew Wilson, CME’s vice president of national policy. “This is why we work closely with educators in our province to teach students about the opportunities that exist in the trades and manufacturing. In some cases, these schools will even customize some of their courses to prepare students for work in these sectors, which is a win-win for graduates seeking jobs and companies seeking skilled, motivated staff.”

Business and trade associations are also good partners for companies seeking skilled employees. “Both kinds of associations are charged with improving opportunities for their respective memberships,” says Joanne Heighway, CME’s vice president of organizational excellence. “Business associations are willing to help employers build their pool of skilled labour, because the resulting growth in local payrolls boosts their members’ prosperity. Trade associations want to help, because more skilled trades at local employers means more potential members for their associations, and an enhanced public profile for trades in general.”

In fact, any group that is interested in furthering the fortunes of its members could be a useful ally for manufacturers seeking additional skilled employees. “Immigrant/new Canadians groups are an excellent example,” says Ron Koslowsky, CME Manitoba’s vice president. “They can steer manufacturers to untapped pools of internationally-certified talent who can be trained to meet Canadian standards through the CME’s Path2Work program.”

The reality is that there are many ways for CME members to access skilled labour, both through the association and by working with a range of community partners. The hard part is making the decision to commit the time to tap into these resources and following through on this commitment — but the benefits of doing so definitely justifies the effort.

“CME members can and are taking action to resolve their skilled worker shortages,” says Wilson. “It is an ongoing struggle, but it is possible to win this fight in order to keep Canadian manufacturers growing and world-competitive — and CME is here to help.”

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CertWORK+ helps employers know what skills their employees actually have

By James Careless

In today’s competitive economy, it is vital for employers to leverage their employees’ existing skills as much as possible, and provide training to fill any skill gaps that can compromise these employees’ productivity. After all, if the employees don’t have all of the skills to do their jobs completely, it is the employer who suffers

Helping employers find out what skills their employees already possess — and helping employees to build evidence-based online portfolios that illustrate their marketable skills — is the rationale behind the CertWORK Plus (CertWORK+) national assessment and certification program. Developed collaboratively by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), CertWORK+ is designed to provide documented skills certification for all levels of shop floor manufacturing production workers and management staff.

“Using an online employee self-reporting system at www.certwork.com, where their efforts are aided by mentors, CertWORK+ is a way for staff to put their existing skills resume on the record,” said Johanna Faulk, CME’s director of national programs. “Employees can use the certification to enhance their chances for promotion within the workplace, while employers can use this data to assess accurately the skills pool they have at hand, to identify workers for promotion, as well as identifying the skill gaps they need to fill in their workforce.”

CertWORK+ certifications will also be useful for employers when advertising for new hires, and for certified employees seeking such jobs. Both will know the actual value of CertWORK+ certifications being cited by job applicants, which will improve the chances of successful long-term hires for both sides of the equation.

At the same time, it is important to note CertWORK+ does not, and will not, replace any existing forms of workplace skills certification, nor it is ever intended to do so. “We are not trying to certify for training received in post-secondary school or through professional associations and apprenticeship, but rather, certify them for the skills they already have,” Faulk said. “This is simply a way for employers and employees to access an objective existing skills reporting system.”

At present, CertWORK+ is in the pilot stage. Funding for this initiative is being provided by Employment and Social Development Canada. Ultimately, the final project will be self-sustaining through user payments.

The current CertWORK+ application process is sufficiently refined to provide 20/20 readers with insight into how it works. The employee starts by logging on to www.certwork.com/take-assessment to take an online skills assessment. (At present, the CertWORK+ site is configured to support self assessments for Lead hand, Supervisor and Production Manager.) For Lead hand, for instance, the online survey asks the employee to rate their skills in various areas (guiding teams, making changes to machinery and production methods, and developing plans to improve processes, among others) on a selectable scale of “Exactly Like Me”, “Somewhat Like Me” or “Not Like Me”.

“Those applicants whose skills reach the 80 per cent or higher level will be matched with a mentor and an assessor. The mentor will help the candidate prepare the evidence for the online portfolio and the assessor will assess the evidence against the standards,” said Johanna Faulk. “Collectively, these experts will help successful CertWORK+ applicants compile and refine their online portfolios.” These portfolios will ‘prove’ the employee’s claimed skills to employers - if the employee says they have robotic machinery usage skills related to a specific plant process or project, the portfolio will contain signed documentation from a supervisor backing their claim.

To help employers assess the actual value of CertWORK+’s skills inventories, the CertWORK+ site hosts a page entitled “CertWORK+ Standards” (www.certwork.com/competencies). It offers 17 clickable “Standards” such as “Plan and/or implement the operations of a manufacturing organization”, “Make decisions and evaluate the effect of the decisions made” and “Develop a culture of safety”. Click on one of the Standards, and the CertWoRK+ site reveals how each relates to the three jobs currently on the site (Leadhand, Supervisor and Production Manager).

For instance, under “Develop a culture of safety”, the Performance Indicators are as follows:

Leadhand:

  • Explain safety regulations and requirements to the team

  • Make suggestions about safe work procedures

Supervisor:

  • Encourage teams to speak up when they notice potential hazards

  • Ensure teams are aware of H&S requirements

  • Monitor H&S adherence and safe-work procedures

  • Report workplace hazards, incidents and accidents to the H&S team

Production Manager:

  • Share/communicate the rules of the H&S committee

  • Work closely with the H&S personnel and establish adherence to safety policies

Many challenges lie ahead for the CertWORK+ program, including coming up with certifications that are nationally applicable. Still, the reasoning behind the project makes tremendous sense: Everyone benefits when employers and employees alike can provide objective proof of their existing skills, and use this proof to everyone’s benefit.

“The fact that CME and the CLC are working together to develop CertWORK+ speaks volumes about how beneficial these certifications will be for employers and employees alike,” said Faulk. “This is a skills assessment program that will truly make a difference to individuals, companies and the nation’s economy as a whole.”

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