Craig Manufacturing staff gather for a photo following the announcement with NBCC Friday, Nov. 25. Photo Courtesy of NBCC

Representatives from NBCC visited Craig Manufacturing in Hartland Friday morning, Nov. 25, to thank the three-generation family firm for its $100,000 donation to NBCC’s Going Beyond campaign.

NBCC will dedicate the funds to modernizing learning spaces at the college, explained Ann Drennan, Vice President Academic, Innovation, and Student Affairs. 

Drennan and Craig Manufacturing President Ben Craig shared the podium for the announcement in the heart of the company’s manufacturing plant as employees watched. 

Craig said his company, which manufactures and ships worldwide attachments for heavy construction equipment, offers a broad cross-section of blue and white-collar jobs in welding, machinist, engineering, finance and marketing.

They noted that almost a third of Craig’s employees are NBCC graduates, with 60 per cent of those in supervisory roles.

“As a major employer of NBCC graduates, our partners at Craig Manufacturing know firsthand how important it is for students to have the opportunity to develop their skills on up-to-date equipment in modern, vibrant spaces,” said Drennan. “Using new tools, technology, spaces, and partnerships to innovate educational delivery that responds to the needs of students and employers is a key component of the Going Beyond campaign.”

Craig said NBCC prepares students for the workforce from a technical and life-skill perspective. 

“We are thrilled to be part of the NBCC Going Beyond Campaign,” he said. “NBCC grads are at the core of our workforce and essential to every part of our business. We firmly believe that the education provided by NBCC is key to unlocking the future prosperity of our province. We are proud to support NBCC as they develop the future leaders of New Brunswick business and beyond.” 

In recognition of Craig Manufacturing’s gift, NBCC is naming three college spaces after the company — the welding shop at the Woodstock Campus; the metal fabrication shop at the Trades Education Centre in Saint John; and the welding, metal fabrication and CNC shops at the Moncton campus.

The NBCC new release for Friday’s event explained Craig Manufacturing is one of many industry partners joining forces to support NBCC’s Going Beyond campaign. 

The $16-million campaign charts a course for NBCC to:

— accelerate skills development by creating fast, flexible training opportunities that meet the needs of learners and employers;

— innovate educational delivery through the use of new tools, technology, spaces, and partnerships; and

 — reach unprecedented numbers of New Brunswickers by reducing the barriers that prevent people from seeking training.

Ann Drennan, Vice President Academic, Innovation, and Student Affairs, poses with two generations of the Craig family, President Ben Craig, left, and his father John

Drennan said NBCC’s relationship with industry is core to the college’s long-term success of filling skilled workers to meet the province’s workplace needs. 

She explained that industry leaders on program advisory committees directly impact the college system’s programs. 

Drennan said NBCC works with industry sectors to understand current and future needs. 

She said the college tries to reach out to middle and high school students through skill sessions, which she described as “vital.”

“We need to get students excited,” Drennan said.  

Craig agreed. 

“We’ve made a real conscious effort to try and meet young people in school and let them know about our business, and because of that, we’ve done a great job of hiring,” Craig said. “But despite all our best efforts, we’re still short on talent.” 

He also stressed the trades, such as welding, are no longer limited to one gender, noting a woman is one of his firm’s best welders is a woman. 

“We have . a half a dozen young female welders coming up through their system,” Craig said. 

He said the company moved one of its highly skilled female welders and her family from Hartland to the company’s Tennessee plant to take a leadership role in its welding program. 

Craig Manufacturing, established by Ben Craig’s grandfather in 1946, has maintained its home in Hartland. Ben’s father, John, his predecessor as president, attended Friday’s announcement.

By Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Nov 25, 2022

This item reprinted with permission from   River Valley Sun   Woodstock, New Brunswick

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