Ford in Pickering to announce changes to skilled trades apprentice program

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Published March 8, 2023 at 1:11 pm

Ontario Premier Doug Ford practises plasma welding on a car hood as while visiting St. Mary Catholic Secondary School in Pickering Wednesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Ontario Premier Doug Ford made an appearance at Pickering’s St. Mary’s High School Wednesday morning to announce changes to the Ontario high school apprenticeship program that will allow students in Grade 11 to begin working toward their apprenticeships in skilled trades.

“These changes provide students with exciting pathways to good-paying jobs and rewarding careers and support our government’s ongoing work to attract more young people into the skilled trades,” Ford enthused. “Whether it’s enhancing trades education in our schools, breaking down barriers for newcomers or upskilling workers, we’re leaving no stone unturned to train the skilled workforce that will build Ontario.”

Flanked by Education Minister Stephen Lecce, Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development Minister Monte McNaughton and Finance Minister (and local Pickering-Uxbridge MP) Peter Bethlenfalvy, Ford said the changes lets high school students earn credits toward a secondary school diploma while they apprentice.

Lecce, who said Ontario will need 72,000 new workers by 2027 – with one in five a skilled trades position – said it’s a deal that prepares young people for in-demand and well-paying careers by allowing students in grade 11 to transition to a full-time, skilled trades apprenticeship program.

“To ensure all students can get ahead in this province, we are accelerating pathways from high school to apprenticeship learning and ultimately, a career in the skilled trades,” Lecce explained. “Our government’s mission is to fill the skills gap by better connecting Ontario students to these good-paying jobs, helping many students who may not have graduated, now gain a credential that leads them to meaningful employment.”

McNaughton said it’s also time skilled trades got a better reputation among parents and the media.

“For far too long, parents and students have been told the only path to succeed in life is by going to university, which is simply not true,” he said. “When you have a career in the skilled trades, you have a career for life. Our government will continue to provide students with the tools they need to land well-paying and life-long careers.”

The provincial government will also begin consultations this fall with employers, unions, education stakeholders, trainers, parents, and others about ways to make it even easier for young people to enter a career in the trades. This includes the potential of lowering entry requirements for some of the 106 skilled trades that currently require a grade 12-level education.

Skilled trades organizations around the province applauded the changes, including Ian Howcroft, the CEO of Skills Ontario.

“Skills Ontario applauds the government for its continued investment in building Ontario’s workforce of the future,” Howcroft said. “This latest initiative will support and help young people after grade 10 to better enter an apprenticeship to start their career. With enormous and growing skills shortages, it is imperative that we continue to introduce innovative solutions and pathways that will assist young people who are interested in careers in the skilled trades.”

The education ministry is also working to recognize up to 30 credits required to earn the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) for individuals with a Certificate of Apprenticeship or equivalent.

 

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