It began as a conversation between RRC Polytech and industry leader Dr. Gerry Price in Spring 2021 about the increasingly vulnerable state of manufacturing in Manitoba, and his question: how can we work together to advance the sector?
The journey to the answer — spanning two years of deep conversations with industry, government and other stakeholders — sets the stage for today’s announcement of the Price Institute of Advanced Manufacturing and Mechatronics.
The news is anchored by a $10-million gift from the Price Family Foundation — the largest in RRC Polytech’s history — along with more than $3 million from the federal government and $4.86 million from the province for capital and program development, as well as ongoing operating costs. These three gifts bring the College’s comprehensive campaign, In Front of What’s Ahead, closer to its $60-million goal, with a current total of $51.5 million raised to date.
Today’s $17.86-million investment in the Institute will allow RRC Polytech to bridge critical skills and labour gaps in the sector, spur applied research activities within the sector’s many small-to-medium enterprise (SME) employers and foster an innovation ecosystem where industry-education partnerships shift the technologies disrupting the sector from threats to opportunities.
“As Manitoba’s polytechnic, RRC Polytech is strongly positioned to partner with stakeholders and help usher in a new era of opportunity for one of Manitoba’s most valued economic drivers,” says Fred Meier, RRC Polytech President and CEO. “We are expanding training opportunities and applied research in manufacturing, and it is only possible because of the vision and the commitment of Dr. Gerry Price and the Price Family Foundation, as well as the Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba.”
The Manitoba chapter of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) recently reported that it had 2,130 job vacancies in the third quarter of 2022, citing a shortage of advanced skills that are not currently being trained in the province. The Price Institute will directly respond to the skills shortage by training new workers, and by upskilling and reskilling existing workers.
Scheduled for a phased launch beginning in Fall 2023, the Institute features a range of new programs and firsts for RRC Polytech, including:
- Two post-graduate diplomas (one in advanced manufacturing, one in mechatronics) that boost the annual graduate output of RRC Polytech’s engineering technology programs by 150 per cent.
- A project space to drive innovation and technology transfer in automation and manufacturing for SMEs and facilitate student-led research activities.
- Flexible, micro-credentialing options to upskill and reskill up to 1,000 employees each year, including Western Canada’s first offering of the internationally recognized and accredited Siemens Mechatronics Systems Certification Program (Levels I and II), which kickstarts phase one of the Institute’s launch this fall.
- Manitoba’s first Applied Research Chair in Advanced Manufacturing.
This transformational gift from the Price Family Foundation continues its legacy of student-focused support at RRC Polytech. Ahead of the announcement, the Price Family renewed its scholarships at the College for another five years, removing a critical barrier faced by many students pursuing education in engineering technology-focused fields.
“No matter the enterprise, the foundation of Manitoba’s success — past, present and future — is its people,” says Price, the Chairman and CEO of Price Industries Limited. “The more you create access to education opportunities, the more you empower the innovator that dwells within us all. This is an investment in Manitoba’s future learners and future leaders, which will have lasting benefits for generations to come.”
With donor support poised to remove barriers to education for generations of students, the federal government’s $3-million investment supported by Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan) will be used to prepare the space for students and to develop and deliver curriculum over the next three years.
“Investments in training and skills development will ensure Manitoba remains a leader in advanced manufacturing and will inspire the next generation of the workforce,” says Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan and MP for Saint Boniface–Saint Vital.
“Our government recognizes the importance of strengthening key clusters and industry priorities, starting with training and education. This funding from PrairiesCan will assist in the development of critical workforce skills through the Price Institute.”
The province focused its investment on funding capital, start-up and development costs related to the Institute’s academic programming, as well as its ongoing operating costs.
“As we work to integrate more and more digital technologies into manufacturing products and processes, there’s a complementary need for highly trained and skilled workers to ensure the sector’s success,” says Sarah Guillemard, Minister of Advanced Education and Training.
“The Manitoba government is pleased to provide ongoing support for RRC Polytech … to deliver the sophisticated training needed by Manitoba’s manufacturing workforce.”
The province’s $4.86-million investment will support technology and training for students, and will provide the College with increased capacity to train industry 4.0 professionals.
“Manufacturing is integral to Manitoba’s economy, with 7,900 job openings expected over the next five years,” says Jeff Wharton, Minister of Economic Development, Investment and Trade for the province. “Equipping workers with the skills for these in-demand jobs will ensure a steady workforce to keep pace with our economic growth and allow manufacturers to adopt the technologies essential to building and sustaining their businesses.”
Headquartered in the Skilled Trades and Technology Centre at RRC Polytech’s Notre Dame Campus, the new Institute will leverage the College’s wealth of teaching and research expertise, as well as the more than $35 million of cutting-edge equipment housed within its Technology Access Centre for Aerospace and Manufacturing (TACAM).