The Ontario government says it will provide free training programs to hundreds of people from communities underrepresented in auto manufacturing in a bid to get more workers into the province’s growing but aging auto sector.
Some 500 participants will take part in three-month job placements at small and medium-sized businesses as part of the $5 million plan, led by the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association (APMA).
“Across the province … 380,000 jobs are going unfilled. That is 380,000 steady paycheques that could support workers and families. That’s money that should be in the workers’ pockets,” said Premier Doug Ford during Wednesday’s announcement at Dyna-Mig in Stratford, Ont.
“Over the past two years, we have secured a historic string of investments worth nearly $14 billion… These investments will put Ontario on the map, from Windsor to Oshawa and everywhere in between, as the North American capital of electric vehicle production.”
The program, which runs until March 31, 2023, will see trainees learn manufacturing essentials, project management, and troubleshooting, the province says.
Businesses providing the placements can receive wage subsidies from the province for each trainee up to $4,600. Upon completion, those participating will receive a job offer from a local employer, the province says.
While more than 96,000 people were working in the province’s auto manufacturing sector as of last year, Flavio Volpe, APMA’s president, notes an aging workforce has highlighted the importance of hiring, training, and retaining new talent.
“We’ve been lucky enough to work alongside Minister (Monte) McNaughton and the Premier to ensure that we can meet our goals, to build, attract and develop a new talent pipeline that will construct new pathways for historically excluded groups such as youth, women, newcomers and racialized communities,” he said.
Funding for the initiative is coming from the province’s Skills Development Fund.
Wednesday’s announcement is nearly identical to one the province made just over a year ago involving AMPA to invest $7 million to train and provide job placements for up to 800 people.
“To build Ontario, we need all hands on deck. And that is especially true in automotive manufacturing,” said Monte McNaughton, the province’s labour, immigration, training and skills development minister.
“We need more auto workers. Our auto workers are heroes, making the vehicles that our families and businesses depend on. They have meaningful careers where they can be proud of what they build, support their family, and give back to their community.”
Those interested in participating — trainees or employers — are asked to apply through APMA’s website.