The province announced Wednesday it will fork over $1.49 million in skills training funding to six local initiatives and organizations as it looks to rebound the economy from the turmoil brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Those receiving funding include CityStudio London, Let’s Talk Science, Greenhouse Academy and Pathways Skills Development.
Lambton—Kent—Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton unveiled the funding at the King Street offices of Pillar Nonprofit Network which oversees CityStudio London. He was joined by Elgin—Middlesex—London MPP Jeff Yurek.
“Ontario was impacted by COVID-19 like every other jurisdiction in the world. A lot of people literally woke up without a job,” said McNaughton, who is also the province’s minister of labour, training, and skills development, during an interview with 980 CFPL’s Jess Brady.
“What we’re focusing on now as we’re beginning the economic recovery in the province is to ensure that young people, students and other job-seekers have the job-ready skills that they need and employers have workers that they can hire who are ready on day one.”
According to the province, CityStudio London, a collaborative project launched last year involving the city, Pillar Nonprofit, and several post-secondary institutions, will see $214,000 used toward providing as many as 780 students hands-on, on-the-job experience.
“We look forward to seeing the continued positive impacts of CityStudio London for both students and our community over the coming year,” said Michelle Baldwin, Pillar Nonprofit’s executive director, in a statement.
Let’s Talk Science will see the largest slice of funding pie, $500,000 to “help prepare 2,200 elementary and high-school students for careers in STEM sectors (science, technology, engineering and math),” while Greenhouse Academy will receive $440,000 to train some 540 young people for future careers in agriculture and horticulture.
The news comes nearly two weeks after the London-St. Thomas region reported an unemployment rate of 10.5 per cent for the month of July.
While it was an improvement from the 12.6 per cent seen in June, it’s still well above the 4.8 per cent the region reported in February before the pandemic was declared.
“Prior to COVID-19, every single day in the province, over 200,000 jobs were going unfilled because employers just couldn’t find the workers with the right skills,” McNaughton said.
“It’s a mission that I’m on as the minister and our government is on to ensure that people have these job skills so they’re ready to begin a career. We all know that these jobs, in particular in the skilled trades, they’re well-paying, they’re exciting, they’re lucrative.”
Meantime, Pathways Skills Development is receiving $185,375, while $98,000 is going to Fanshawe College, and $53,000 to Habitat ReStore.
The province says Pathways will use its funding to “prepare 25 newcomers and Indigenous people for employment in manufacturing and/or construction,” while Fanshawe will use its funding to “help 25 people in underrepresented groups find careers in the window and door-installation industries.”