Ontario high school students in Ontario will be required to take a mandatory technological education class in order to earn their diploma, according to the ministry of education — a change that the Ford government hopes will boost the number of students looking to enter the skills trades.
The government said the technological education course, which would be mandatory beginning in September 2024, would cover a wide range of sectors, including construction, transportation, manufacturing, computer, technology, hospitality, and communication.
The curriculum, which was last updated in 2009, will be revised again to focus on advances in automation in the agriculture, manufacturing and construction sectors while new course material will prepare students for careers as electricians and plumbers.
By mandating the course in Grade 9 or 10, Education Minister Stephen Lecce also said students could be inspired at an earlier age to pursue a career in the trades.
“We are opening up doors and creating new pathways to good jobs in STEM and the skilled trades,” Lecce said in a news release. “All students will benefit from a greater emphasis on hands on learning experience and technical skills in the classroom so they can graduate with a competitive advantage.”
The government said Ontario currently has 100,000 unfilled skilled trade jobs, which the government described as “the largest labour shortage in a generation.”
The Ford government also indicated the change is designed to incentivize more female students to consider jobs in the skilled trades.
In 2020–21, the province said 39 per cent of all Ontario high school students were enrolled in the technological education program. However, 63 per cent of those enrolled were male students.
— With files from the Canadian Press