Ontario Construction News staff writer
‘Not everyone needs to go to university to have a great career,” says labour minister
With one in three journeypersons in Ontario 57 or older, Ontario’s labour minister has a message: “My message to young people, to parents, to educators out there … we don’t need every single young person going to university,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
“We’re raising awareness of the good jobs in the skilled trades and breaking down barriers to get more people into apprenticeships.”
That’s why the province is sending recruiters to high schools in the fall, “to compete with universities head-on and talk about opportunities in the trades.”
Ontario is investing $47 million in 2021-22 to hire more apprentices, improve the quality of training and certification through the new Achievement Incentive Program and expanded Apprenticeship Capital Grant. These programs are designed to support those who train apprentices, such as businesses, colleges and other training organizations.
“This is critical investment as our apprentices will be the ones who will help provide essential services and build our future hospitals, highways and homes,” McNaughton said.
“Through these programs our government is supporting this important training pipeline, creating the next generation of our skilled workers and providing more young people with opportunity to get good jobs in their communities. Our economic recovery and future growth depends on having a robust skilled workforce.”
Ontario’s $23 million Achievement Incentive Program will provide over 11,000 employers in the construction, industrial, service and other sectors with up to $4,000 in funding per apprentice as they reach key training milestones.
“Minister McNaughton’s announcement will be extremely welcome by small businesses employing or wanting to employ apprentices, which make up a majority of the Electrical Contractors’ Association of Ontario (ECAO), said Graeme Aitken, executive director, Electrical Contractors’ Association of Ontario (ECAO).
“The Achievement Incentive Program will benefit our entire community – employers, our labour partners, all of those eager to begin apprenticeships. This will help us to continue to build careers for Ontarians; not simply find them jobs.”
Additionally, the government is investing $24 million – a $10 million increase from last year – through the Apprenticeship Capital Grant to help colleges, unions and apprentice training providers upgrade equipment and facilities to ensure apprentices are learning and using state-of-the-art infrastructure during their in-class training. Examples include new virtual reality training equipment and simulators, new tools or upgraded accessibility supports, all of which help apprentices acquire the skills they need to be job ready.
“This is a good step that will encourage more employers to hire and train apprentices. Employers provide critical on-the-job training for apprentices entering the trades. This investment will encourage more small and medium sized companies to be involved in the apprenticeship system so Ontario becomes a leader in the skilled trades,” said Stephen Hamilton, chair, Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance.
In 2020-21, Ontario will invest $21 million in the Achievement Incentive. This investment will grow to $23.1 million in ongoing funding in 2021-22.
“Employers are an essential participant in the apprenticeship system providing jobs, training and mentorship for our next generation of skilled workers. As we begin to recover from the pandemic, it is imperative that employers are supported to continue to train and employ the tradespeople our economy will rely upon,” said Karen Renkema
vice president, Ontario, Progressive Contractors Association of Canada.