The Ontario Aerospace Council announced results from the pilot year for its Competencies Online Advancement Skills & Training (COAST) program, as well as plans for year two. Developed in response to COVID-19 to engage, retain and upskill aerospace industry employees, as well as facilitate post-pandemic recovery, COAST is funded in part by the Province of Ontario through its Skills Catalyst Fund under the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development. For the pilot year that concluded in March 2021, OAC reported that 173 trainees representing 11 aerospace companies throughout all levels of the supply chain occupied 310 seats in eight courses selected by industry.
“OAC leadership and its board of directors responded quickly to pandemic-related employment challenges, creating COAST so our member companies could recognize employees by offering training valued for both its content and recognition by managers,” said Moira Harvey, OAC’s executive director. “Courses were selected via an industry survey and a ten-member advisory committee that reflected our diverse base. In its first year, COAST enhanced industry talent and expanded networks, despite a lack of in-person meetings.”
Three “Business of Aerospace” customized courses were titled “Diversity and Bias: Awareness and Action for Aerospace Leaders,” “Ontario Aerospace – Our Heritage, Our Sector and Future Proofing Your Career,” and “Blue Skies Ahead – Challenges and Opportunities for Ontario Aerospace.” These were complemented by diverse industry panel discussions that facilitated connections across companies. Five broader offerings addressed personal/business and relational competencies: “Focus & Achievement,” Critical Thinking & Problem Solving,” “Conflict Management,” “Change Management,” and “Team Building.”
“Our employees appreciated the breadth and depth that the COAST programs offered,” said Peter Voss, president and CEO of Shimco, as well as an OAC board member and COAST industry advisory committee member. “Every participant was able to take away several key learning concepts and apply them to real-life situations.”
COAST is based on a self-improvement mindset called Beta-You. Trainees were presented with the notion that they should adopt a more dedicated approach to learning, one that recognizes the competitive and workplace changes in aerospace that necessitate intentional and continuous learning. These programs focus on social, cognitive and digital competencies required for employee success in this sector. In addition to specific programming, Beta-You functionality will be developed to support OAC members and their employees to manage, track and receive industry-wide recognition through certification for their developmental achievements.
“The COAST program has allowed us to continue the support of our employee’s Personal Development Plans (PDPs) in areas critical to the success of our organization,” stated Robert Mobilio, vice president for engineering and quality at De Havilland Aircraft of Canada. “The soft skill type courses, combined with the customized Business of Aerospace curriculum, and complemented by our internal technical development programs has resulted in a robust training base for our teams. We look forward to additional opportunities to continue developing our relationship with the COAST program and further expanding on the courses available to our employees.”
In year two of COAST, the OAC will expand on the eight courses above with five “Non-technical Plus” soft-skills programs: “Innovation,” “Collaboration,” “Critical and Analytical Thinking,” “21st Century Management” and “Resilience @ Work.” It will also offer a business and professional writing class called “It’s Not What You Say, it’s How You Say It,” plus train-the-trainer sessions, a mentorship program and workforce communities to promote best practices. Funded in March 2021 through the Skills Development Fund under the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, this second year of COAST runs from June 2021 through March 2022.