Oshawa GM plant closure a ‘disappointment’ for engineering students

Click to play video: 'Does Oshawa GM closure signal trouble for auto industry?'
Does Oshawa GM closure signal trouble for auto industry?
WATCH: Does Oshawa GM closure signal trouble for auto industry? – Nov 26, 2018

Many students in Oshawa, Ont., who had their “hopes quite high” that they’d find work at the city’s General Motors plant, will have to look for other options after Monday’s announcement that the plant will be shutting down.

Students like Priya Shastry, who is an automotive engineering masters student at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), say they had their sights set on applying to GM once they graduate.

READ MORE: GM’s Oshawa closure raises questions on Canada’s future in green auto sector: experts

“A lot of us came to UOIT mainly because of the GM plant in Oshawa,” said Shastry, who is in her final year of schooling. “We know that UOIT has good dealings with GM.”

The Oshawa school’s Automotive Centre of Excellence was, in part, developed by General Motors.

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UOIT offers one of the few Canadian automotive-focused engineering university programs in the country, and its specialized courses are offered in a city that, because of the plant, has been closely tied to General Motors.

The closure means more than 2,500 employees will be out of work, and the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association estimates the closure may mean up to 15,000 jobs will be cut within the auto-parts industry.

WATCH: General Motors to close operations at Oshawa plant in 2019

Click to play video: 'General Motors to close operations at Oshawa plant in 2019'
General Motors to close operations at Oshawa plant in 2019
“It’s definitely a [disappointment], especially for manufacturers and low-level engineers,” said Zeinab El-Sayegh, a phD candidate in mechanical engineering at UOIT. “But, as a phD student, or even master’s students, there’s lots of other opportunities around Canada.”

READ MORE: GM Oshawa plant closing could affect nearly 15 per cent of auto industry jobs

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The associate dean of the school’s engineering department agrees, saying the changing automotive sector will offer new, and different, jobs for students.

“It is sad news, for sure, for the community here,” said Dr. Hossam Kishawy, who is also a professor at UOIT. “But, as a university, we always look at every challenge as [an] opportunity for something better in the future.”

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