Career Special: Industrial mechanics: Brains and brawn

Brains and brawn

In industrial mechanics, students learn to maintain and repair all kinds of machines

Due to many workers reaching retirement age, there's been an increase in demand for skilled labour in the area of industrial mechanics

"With the recent job losses in factory work, it gives the impression that opportunities are rare in this area. But as long as there are machines, there will be a need for workers to maintain and repair them," explains Harry Michalopoulos, director of the Centre du technologie Rosemont. The school offers a variety of programs, such as machining techniques, computer numerical control (CNC) machining, electromechanical engineering, industrial design and welding.

"When I decided to go back to school, I went to Emploi-Québec first," explains Daniel Dagenais, who works today as an apprentice mechanic for Canadian National Railway. "I took some tests that showed I have good dexterity and an ability to solve mathematical problems." Good job prospects as well as higher salaries attracted Dagenais to the École des métiers du Sud-Ouest de Montréal, which also offers training in industrial mechanics.

"Out of 408 graduates in industrial mechanics in 2010, 78 percent found a job directly connected to their training and 95 percent of them work full-time," says Diane Dulude, assistant director of the school.

According to Dulude, an industrial mechanic is good with their hands and enjoys solving problems and working under pressure. "It’s the mechanic who’s called when a hospital’s ventilation system isn’t working, or if an assembly line fails," she explains.

The median age of students in the program is 35. Many hope to acquire new skills after having worked in construction or in factories. "A third of our clients are originally from North Africa. We often get people who are newly arrived in Quebec and have already worked in this area in their country of origin, but must obtain recognition of their skills in Quebec," Dulude points out. "There are jobs for those who are ready to fine-tune their skills given the evolution in this sector. Many machines increasingly include electronic systems, and workers who understand these systems are in constant demand," concludes Harry Michalopoulos.

Programs in industrial mechanics
École des métiers du Sud-Ouest: www.csdm.qc.ca/emsom
Centre de technologie Rosemont: www.rosemount-technology.qc.ca
Emploi-Québec: www.emploiquebec.net

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