Hey, kids: if you’re big into boats, and you want a job that connects you to cottage country, consider the boating industry. It needs you. There’s been a shortage of skilled marine technicians for several years now. According to a recent survey by Boating Ontario, this year there were 200 entry-level job openings but only a handful of workers to fill them. Last April, the organization worked with volunteers from the marine industry to launch Catch the Wave, a workforce development program. The goal was to promote marine job opportunities to students, parents, and teachers, who don’t necessarily know that the opportunities exist.
“People don’t think of it as a viable career option,” says Kayla Kent, the human resources manager for MetalCraft Marine in Kingston, Ont., who organized local professionals—including a marine mechanic and a marine engineer—for a high school career day. “There are so many jobs out there: long-term, skilled career paths for students to follow,” she says. “We need to raise awareness.”
It may be working: enrolment in Georgian College’s Mechanical Techniques–Marine Engine Mechanic program for the Fall 2016 session is up from last year. Boating Ontario’s Cynthia Hodgson says that it’s too early to tell whether that’s a result of Catch the Wave, but, regardless, she hopes to expand the program in 2017.