David Kircher has been exploring the idea of turning the mill complex into a huge trade school. Citing several studies, the need for skilled tradespeople has been clearly identified.
A 2017 report noted that within the Ottawa Valley there will be a need for 350,00 skilled trades people.
The Ontario Public School Board Association, in a submission to the Ministry of Education, identified that by 2025, 1.2 million skilled labour positions will go unfilled.
The story worsens. Almost 40 percent of the working force will retire in the next five years and there is not the skilled or learning workforce available to replace those workers.
Kircher has a brilliant idea: turn the existing mill complex into an industrial trade school. Use the knowledge base of tradespeople in our community to train new electricians, carpenters, pipe fitters, welders, electronics specialists.
Sounds far-fetched, yet in practicality, Fort Frances—located smack dab in the centre of Canada—would make the perfect location for a trade school. The buildings exist. The skills learned could again get the paper mill and kraft mill operating. Power engineers could learn their trades through the “hawg” fuel power generating system.
It is a unique idea that can now only exist in Fort Frances. No other community in Canada has a facility that could quickly be turned into hands on classrooms.
Education is a huge business. Colleges and universities continually generate a new crop of students every 12 months. They also produce a myriad of jobs and business opportunities.
The school, just as other technical schools and colleges across Canada, would become the major employer in the community.