Talent from the region, key infrastructure components for a growing automotive hub

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With local leaders looking to transform the Windsor region into a global leader in automotive, their ability to succeed will largely depend on how the region is able to satisfy the industry’s voracious appetite for skilled talent to fill positions, some of which don’t even exist yet. .


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“Economic development may be the engine of the future for this area, but having the talent to meet the needs of these businesses is the fuel that makes it work,” said Stephen MacKenzie, CEO of Invest WindsorEssex.

“The quality, quantity and cost of talent has always been high on the top priority list when companies make a decision about where to locate.”

It is all our assets that are attractive

The capacity of the region to keep the pipeline filled with the necessary talent and resources will be one of the key points that will be studied in a seminar on September 23 that will be billed as Building the World’s Mobility Hub.

The free seminar, which is being produced by tech events firm CityAge for Invest WindsorEssex, aims to inform registrants about what’s happening in motoring, how to get involved, but also highlights how much of everything is happening in Windsor-Detroit. region.


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Peter Wawrow, Director of Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at St. Clair College is shown on Friday, September 17, 2021.
Peter Wawrow, Director of Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at St. Clair College is shown on Friday, September 17, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

There will be speakers from both sides of the border and topics include building innovation corridors, cross-border clusters, talent development, and zero-emission vehicles.

To register go to https://form.jotform.com/CityAge/automobility.

Since 2019, 17 automotive-related companies have started or located in the region, creating 230 jobs and nearly $ 34 million in new investment.

“I am confident that we are going to have great success in this transformation,” said University of Windsor Executive Director for Research and Innovation, Heather Pratt.

“All the pieces are falling into place. Some really exciting announcements are coming. “

Pratt said there is already an exceptional talent pool at Windsor Essex that is quite large due to the historic presence of the auto industry.


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What is happening now is the overlap of new programs, research and development, the Virtual Reality Cave, and partnerships with St. Clair College, industry, and Invest WindsorEssex.

“It’s not just talent that attracts businesses and people, it’s our infrastructure and our faculty expertise,” said Pratt, who credited the investments of the province and FedDev Ontario with accelerating the transformation of automotive at Windsor Essex.

“Many companies have contacted us to inquire about our presence in motorsports. It’s all our assets that are attractive. “

Pratt added Windsor’s location next to Detroit and the cross-border partnerships that are being fostered are also huge assets in what is envisioned as a cross-border hub.


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St. Clair College Director of Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Peter Wawrow said a changing industry requires postsecondary institutions to take new approaches.

“It’s wide-ranging and moves away from the more traditional engineering side,” Wawrow said of the talent required for automotive.

“You will still need engineers, but now you need battery technicians, those with knowledge of chemistry, 5G networks and sensors to deal with autonomous and connected vehicles. There will be a great demand for those who are dedicated to the development of software and informatics. “

Automotive is also creating new jobs in the area of ​​critical safety with the emergence of autonomous and electric vehicles.


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Wawrow said the College and the University of Windsor have already been proactive and collaborative in meeting the needs of the industry to develop strategic automotive plans.

Those plans have included consultations with the industry and WEtech Alliance on what is required of future students.

“I think we have the fundamental good programs that are required, but we are going through the process of adjusting them to meet future needs,” Wawrow said.

“We are also developing new programs, such as for cyber security, looking more at sensors, battery technicians and our automotive technician programs so they can service electric vehicles.

“The entire sector is new, so there is a significant transformation. We have to be aggressive so as not to be left behind ”.


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Both schools strive to customize their studies in computer science, data analytics, and artificial intelligence to meet the growing demand from the industry for software specialists.

The university, in partnership with the Automotive Parts Manufacturing Association, has created the SHIELD Automotive Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.

The school is also investing $ 1 million to upgrade the CHARGE lab, which has also attracted millions in private sector investment and federal funds.

Research President of Canada Dr. Narayan Kar oversees the laboratory’s work on the next generation of electric motors and propulsion systems.

Pratt said the university is also hiring new professors for the automotive space. One of these recent hires will be working in the area of ​​Internet of vehicles.

“Our students are working in the labs with professors in technology that we will see in vehicles in five to 10 years,” Pratt said. “This experiential learning makes them excellent candidates for motorsport companies.”

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