KPU, SFU to Provide Training for the Future of Surrey Industry

Provincial and municipal governments will be working with the universities to plan the future of Surrey’s manufacturing sector

Representatives of the City of Surrey and the Province of British Columbia announce a partnership with local universities at a press event on Aug. 14 (City of Surrey).

The City of Surrey is partnering with Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Simon Fraser University, and the provincial government to develop the city’s advanced manufacturing sector and support local manufacturing companies.

The province has invested $125,832 into identifying future needs in Surrey’s labour market. Part of the research necessary to identify those needs was conducted using a study completed by KPU and SFU. Both institutions will be committed to providing training for those entering the market in the future.

The partnership between the governments and institutions was announced at a press event at Surrey City Hall on Aug. 14.

“Transforming Surrey into a metropolitan centre means investing in ensuring our residents have the necessary skills to support the future of our city’s economic growth,” Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner told media at the announcement.

Surrey is home to a range of manufacturing businesses, with the majority being small-to-medium-sized enterprises. KPU Provost & Vice President Academic Salvador Ferreras says that this new partnership aims to address a looming shortage of skilled workers in the advanced manufacturing field, while also preparing people to transition to new industries that do not yet exist, as some of the old ones have been eclipsed by automation.

“The general fear of the public is that automation will replace jobs, and it will definitely replace a number of jobs, but there will also be a whole other level of work and work skills needed to maintain those systems,” says Ferreras.

The term “advanced manufacturing” describes the use of new methods and technologies to improve existing manufacturing techniques. For example, employing robotics and mechatronics to automate an assembly line for faster, more efficient production would qualify as advanced manufacturing.

Ferreras says that such innovation is happening and will continue to happen across Surrey’s manufacturing sector, and that as these changes occur, it’s important for the labour market to keep up. He adds that KPU and SFU’s study on examining the landscape of the economic sector in Surrey was a way to find an “evidence-based approach for how to develop these industries.” Its findings provided the foundation that the new partnership was built on.

Going forward, KPU and SFU’s involvement in the partnership will be creating programs for the future industry needs that have been identified. Ferreras points out that KPU will be offering an Advanced Manufacturing diploma program beginning in September 2018. The university also introduced a mechatronics program earlier this year.

“There is a continual need for training programs that are connected to the dynamics of the industry and training and retraining people and to be connected so that we have a very good and timely sense of how we as training institutions can respond,” says Ferreras.