NORCAT leads regionally and internationally in skills training, innovation, business incubation and entrepreneurship

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Northern Ontario Construction News special feature

NORCAT, a Canadian-based global non-profit organization, serves among other things as one of the world’s leading skilled training centres. It focuses on developing and providing world-class programs, services and resources to reduce injuries, save lives and enhance workplace productivity.

Founded in 1995 and headquartered in a 70,000 sq. ft. Sudbury, with offices in Timmins and Onaping, Ont., NORCAT has been developing and providing training programs and services for construction, oil/gas, and mining among other skilled labour sectors, for nearly two decades in Canada and around the world.

Mining is now known as one of the safest resource industries in the country and NORCAT is leveraging its experience and applying its knowledge to support other skilled labour industry sectors including construction and energy.

NORCAT CEO Don Duval says the company’s integrated training approach and model is viewed by industry as world-class. The quadrant model combines four key training mediums including in-person classroom, on-line e-learning, hands-on/in-the-field, and equipment simulation and immersive learning.

NORCAT listens to customers and understands government training requirements for each industry and jurisdiction, ensuring the right mix of training to develop customized solutions to support desired learning outcomes.

We continue to enhance our learning programs, services, and catalogues with a specific focus on the construction industry,” Duval says. “Our supervisor and train-the-trainer programs continue to grow and get positive feedback from our customers.”

As part of the mandate to be a recognized centre of excellence, NORCAT has partnered with Laurentian University through the Goodman School of Mines and the university’s Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH).

Our partnership with CROSH provides an academic third-party validation to assess and ensure our training outcomes are achieved in the field. Engaging with a leading academic institution like Laurentian combined with industry input helps us identify our key focus areas to achieve our goals,” Duval said.

One innovation to meet specific industry needs is the NORCAT Card ,which acts like a driver’s license for training record management. Through a cloud-based management system the card stays with the individual, rather than with a company. Duval says the bar-coded cards, combined with on-site card readers, ensure easy training compliance and spot audits. “By eliminating paper copies and creating a system that follows the individual, we are able to help ensure everyone on a job site is qualified with the specific training requirements for that particular job.”

NORCAT has expanded its coverage to Africa and South America and has an aggressive Canadian growth plan for the next 24 months.

“With our office launch in Timmins we now offer an array of classroom-based programs including supervisor training, fall arrest, contractor orientation, train-the-trainer, among a myriad of on-line eLearning programs and other programs,” Duval says. “Construction, along with mining, continues to be a priority market for NORCAT as we expand our reach across Ontario and Canada.”

Meanwhile, the NORCAT Innovation Mill serves as Sudbury’s designate regional innovation centre – focused on partnering with community stakeholders to help start and accelerate the growth of start-up ventures and small to medium enterprises. The Innovation Mill provides resources, infrastructure, expertise, and equipment to support start-ups across a variety of sectors and stages.

For example, the Fortin Discovery Lab, an advanced manufacturing maker-space housed in the NORCAT Centre, provides start-ups with access to advanced manufacturing resources, expertise and state-of-the-art equipment, including 3D printers, computer numerical control machines, EMC testing, injection molding, and electronics design and fabrication, among others.

Through these assets the NORCAT Innovation Mill is putting a stake in the ground. We believe Canada can continue as manufacturing centre but there needs to be a significant paradigm shift,” said Duval. “Our goal is to offer services and assets to make manufacturing easily accessible and to motivate and inspire with the ultimate goal of reinvigorating manufacturing. With the technology available today, we have really seen the consumerization of advanced manufacturing.”

The Innovation Mill also boasts an exceptional group of business mentors – accomplished business leaders and entrepreneurs – who provide invaluable insight and guidance to support NORCAT’s early stage tech clients.

Our mentors represent a robust group of ‘been there, done that’ entrepreneurs who understand opportunities and how to capitalize on them. It’s our most important asset within the NORCAT Innovation Mill.”

In 2013 the Innovation Mill met its mandate for education by successfully launching its inaugural grass-roots entrepreneurship education program – Entrepreneurship 101. The free, 30-week interactive course is taught by a combination of subject matter experts and experienced entrepreneurs and is designed to offer essential fundamentals in theory and practice for those thinking about starting a business. The flagship educational program will be launched again for season two this month.

Another flagship Innovation Mill event called the Sudbury Pitch occurred in May. “This was an event that showcased four high-potential angel investment opportunities to approximately 200 prospective angel investors in our community. Not only did we showcase some exceptional investment opportunities, but we invigorated the Sudbury angel community and demonstrated that the Innovation Mill is a place where business gets done.”

Throughout its programs and offerings, partnerships and collaboration is at the heart of NORCAT. Here is what some of the partners are saying:

Bruce Jago, executive director, Goodman School of Mines, Laurentian University

“The Goodman School of Mines principal mandate is to support undergraduate and graduate education across the mining cycle. When we investigated, we discovered NORCAT had a lot to offer. One of the first projects to catch our eye for educational purposes was their purchase of an equipment simulator. As a result, we’ve provided $150,000 over three years to support NORCAT’s acquisition of simulation equipment. This equipment will provide a unique opportunity, particularly for mining engineering and occupational health and safety students, to learn about the hazards of heavy equipment operation in their quest to build more efficient and safer underground mining equipment and mining environments. We look forward to exploring other opportunities and to growing the partnership between Laurentian and NORCAT.”

David Pierce, business development manager – North America, Thorough Tec Simulation

As the leading global supplier of surface and underground mining simulators, we’re pleased to partner with NORCAT. With the purchase of their Cybermine 4 simulator, NORCAT is able to facilitate the highest level of simulated training, to both Surface and Underground clients. As NORCAT continues to expand globally, we will look to evolve the simulator’s capabilities to reflect the needs of any/all future customers looking to train their operators on it. This is an exciting partnership and we look forward to continued strategies targeted towards increasing exposure on their new simulator training programs.”

Mike Mayhew, sector leader/director, global mining, Stantec Mining

“NORCAT has a long history in the region and supports Stantec’s focus on safety as a value. The success in the training NORCAT offers, including fall arrest and health and safety, along with the benefit of the safety culture within our company, is easily demonstrated in Stantec’s safety results. NORCAT’s training empowers industry to keep safety in mind on and off the job. Stantec will continue to look at opportunities to partner with NORCAT and to become engaged at other levels.”

Angie Robson, manager, corporate affairs, Ontario operations. Vale Canada Ltd.

“Vale has a long history with NORCAT. We rely on NORCAT to deliver essential common core to everyone who works at our surface plants and underground mines. This is a significant amount of work. For example, during our most recent planned maintenance period in May, we had approximately 1,200 contractors working at our surface plants alone. The training NORCAT provides helps ensure the safety of everyone on our sites and their management of the complex training records involved is an added benefit. Last year we partnered with NORCAT, committing almost $400,000 over the next three years to support a state-of-the-art 360 degree mining equipment training simulator, which will provide new and innovative safety and training opportunities for the industry. Vale also supported NORCAT’s relocation effort in 2007 with a $2 million donation used on the innovation side of the organization to support economic development in the region. Vale is proud of its long-standing relationship with NORCAT and we look forward to finding new ways to partner.”

For more information about NORCAT, visit www.norcat.org.

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