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Ontario investing $28M into training programs for workers entering skilled trades to combat shortage

Program participants at the Ontario Masonry Training Centre in London Ont., March 26, 2022. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

The Ontario government is encouraging more young people to enter the skilled trades after high school with $28 million in funding to help them pay for pre-apprenticeship training.

The funding to help address major shortages of workers in Ontario’s skilled trades was announced at the Ontario Masonry Training Centre in London, Ont., Wednesday.

“Ontario continues to face a generational labour shortage. To build a stronger Ontario and grow our economy we need all hands on deck. Every day, there are hundreds of thousands of paycheques waiting to be collected,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development.

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Between July and September 2021, there were more than 330,000 unfilled jobs in Ontario, many of which are in the skilled trades.

Pre-apprenticeship training programs are free for participants, allowing people to learn both in the classroom and on the job.

Read more: Ontario pushes apprenticeships for electricians to combat shortage

“My message to young people, to parents, to guidance counsellors, is that these are great career opportunities for people. They provide big paychecks often with pension and benefits,” McNaughton said.

David Stubbs, executive director of Ontario Masonry Training Centre, said the funding is welcome support.

“Another $28 million we get to continue to grow our work force and that continuity allows us to build up the training that is required. The up and downs that has sometimes occurred in the past is what is very struggling when we are putting our apprenticeship program together,” Stubbs said.

Stubbs said it’s great to see the stigma around skills trades reduce, and for more people to see it as a viable career.

Read more: From cook to electrician — How Indigenous youth are bouncing back from the pandemic

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“It is essential that we create greater awareness of the skilled trades as a valuable career path for our youth. Programs that support early consideration and opportunities to explore the trades will ensure that we have the workforce of the future that we need,” said Melissa Young, CEO and registrar of Skilled Trades Ontario.

Over the coming weeks, the province said it will also be finalizing $200 million in the second round of projects under the Skills Development Fund that supports innovative programs that connect job seekers with the skills and training.

McNaughton says the funding is available to anyone in Ontario looking to enter the skilled trades, including new immigrants.

People can find out more about how to access the pre-apprenticeship programs through Employment Ontario via phone, email or live chat.

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