Editor’s Note: Last week, during National Skilled Trades and Technology Week, we commended the provincial Conservative government for its efforts to bolster enrolment in those educational fields, as a means of addressing the looming “skills gap” that confronts the labour market in Ontario and Canada.
At the conclusion of that week, the government announced another measure in that regard: stepped-up funding of pre-apprenticeship programs.
Here’s a press release on that subject, from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development:
Ontario's Government is tackling shortages in the skilled trades by announcing $20.8 million in spending to attract more people to the trades and boost Ontario's skilled workforce.
The government will increase spending on Ontario's Pre-Apprenticeship Training program by $2.5 million this year, giving an additional 200 people exposure to good jobs.
The program is free for participants and always includes a work placement.
"Ontario's economy is facing a looming problem: a shortage of workers in the trades," said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. "We need to find additional ways to let young people and their parents know that a career in the trades is exciting, fulfilling and profitable. We have to erase the stigma, and let people know that these are well-paying jobs."
In total, the government will invest $20.8 million into the program to help introduce over 1,800 people to the skilled trades so that they can secure vibrant and in-demand jobs.
The program is delivered by Ontario colleges, private career colleges, union and non-union training centres and other community organizations.
There are over 140 skilled trades in Ontario.
"I'm proud of our 24 publicly funded colleges and the work they do to train 81 percent of apprentices in Ontario," said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. "We're not just building skills and capacity, we're investing in people and their potential."
"Our government is increasing support for pre-apprenticeship training programs because exposing people to careers in the skilled trades will make a difference in their lives and in our economy," said McNaughton. "With this expanded investment, we're opening a new pipeline of young workers."
The pre-apprenticeship program promotes careers in the trades for all Ontario residents, including youth at risk, new Canadians, women and Indigenous people.
Pre-apprenticeship training programs are publicly-funded, last up to one year, and often combine classroom training with an 8- to 12-week work placement. To find out about programs in your area, contact Employment Ontario by phone, e-mail or live chat.
About one in five new jobs in Ontario over the next five years is expected to be in trades-related occupations.
Retirements in the skilled trades are driving the shortage of skilled workers. In 2016, nearly one in three journeypersons were aged 55 years and over.
On May 29, 2019, Ontario passed the Modernizing the Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2019 – to help transform the skilled trades and apprenticeship system, reduce red tape, and make Ontario open for business and open for jobs.
St. Clair currently offers three pre-apprenticeship programs (all of them fully enrolled at the moment): Brick and Stone Mason, CNC Precision Metal Cutting (General Machinist, Tool and Die, Mould Maker), and Truck and Coach Technician (Agricultural Equipment, Powered Lift Truck, Heavy Duty Equipment).
The new provincial funding may allow it to expand its offerings in other fields.