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Lead Story: Technology and Skilled Trades

Turn on the television, radio, podcast, or read a news article on any platform and almost daily, you will learn more about the province’s shortage of skilled trades workers with questions about what is being done to correct the situation.

Simcoe-Grey MPP Brian Saunderson is hearing about the labour shortage too as he visits manufacturers, large and small, throughout Simcoe-Grey.

The skilled trades worker shortage is very real and MPP Saunderson says the province continues to work diligently to address the situation to assist both people looking to upgrade their skills and business/industry owners looking to fill job vacancies with local qualified workers.

Work to address the matter spans many government agencies including the Ministry of Education.

On March 10th of this year, the Ontario government announced that a mandatory high school graduation requirement will empower students with early exposure to technological education and skilled trades.

Ontario government is implementing a new high school graduation requirement to help better prepare students across our province for the jobs of tomorrow. Starting with students entering Grade 9 in September 2024, all students will now be required to earn a Grade 9 or 10 Technological Education credit as part of their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

“I am proud to announce another step forward to ensure all students learn the critical skills necessary to succeed and get a good paying job,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “By requiring students to take at least one Technological Education credit in high school, we are opening up doors and creating new pathways to good jobs in STEM and the skilled trades. All students will benefit from a greater emphasis on hands-on learning experiences and technical skills in the classroom so they can graduate with a competitive advantage in this country.”

This new learning graduation requirement will expose Ontario’s students to at least one Technological Education course that could guide them to a future career in the highly skilled workforce, including the skilled trades. With more than 100,000 unfilled skilled trades jobs right now, it is critical Ontario attracts more young people to pursue a fulfilling, good-paying career in the trades.

Stayner Collegiate Principal Kimberlee Hand, Simcoe County District School Board Superintendent Greg Jacobs with Simcoe-Grey MPP Brian Saunderson in the well equipped Skilled Trades computer lab/shop class

On a recent visit to Stayner Collegiate, MPP Saunderson was very pleased to see a strong dedication to skilled trades curriculum in action. “Recently I have toured many elementary and secondary schools in my riding and on “Take your MPP to School Day” I visited Stayner Collegiate in Clearview Township. Of special note, I’d like to recognize Stayner Collegiate’s Skilled Trades Program. It prepares students to enter a workforce much in need of people to fill jobs in the trades. Hopefully this course will help some students choose to pursue a career in the trades after graduation. This is an agenda this government has been working very hard on and it was wonderful to see it in real time at Stayner Collegiate. The course combines computer training and hands-on woodworking training in a well equipped computer lab and adjacent shop setting.”

In addition, Stayner Collegiate has grown its skilled-trades co-op program throughout Clearview, providing students with valuable first-hand experience in the field and allowing them to build relationships with companies in the riding.

The Technological Education curriculum covers a broad range of sectors, including construction, transportation, manufacturing, computer technology, hospitality and communication. In Ontario, men make up more than 70 per cent of workers in trades-related occupations. The exposure to these career pathways as a mandatory graduation curriculum requirement will ensure more young women make the choice to pursue a career in the trades.

While almost 39 per cent of Ontario secondary school students were enrolled in a Technological Education course in 2020-21, nearly 63 per cent were male students. With this graduation requirement, more young women will have an opportunity to explore the trades. This new requirement means a student may be introduced to programming learning in Grade 9, explore the apprenticeship pathway further and may ultimately decide to become an Aerospace Manufacturing Technician.

“For Ontario to succeed, we need more women and girls to pursue fulfilling careers in the skilled trades. I am proud our government is taking action to ensure students across our province have the tools and skills they need to build a new generation of prosperity in Ontario,” said Charmaine Williams, Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity. “This mandatory graduation requirement means a brighter future – not just for Women and Girls – but for our entire province.”

This new graduation requirement builds upon other actions taken by the government to bolster its Skilled Trades Strategy, including developing an accelerated Grade 11 to apprenticeship pathway for students to get into the skilled trades faster.

“Ontario is facing the largest labour shortage in a generation, which means when you have a career in the skilled trades, you have a career for life,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “That’s why our government is taking an all-hands-on deck approach to attract and train our next generation of skilled trades workers for better jobs and bigger paycheques for themselves and their families.”

This action supports the next steps in Ontario’s Plan to Catch Up and ensures students have exposure and access to learning opportunities to consider STEM fields, including in the skilled trades, as a future career.

On December 12, 2022, the Province announced a plan to modernize computer studies and tech-ed curriculum to ensure students are prepared for the jobs of the future. The new curriculum will focus on life and job skills.

The Ontario government is updating high school courses in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), including learning related to the skilled trades to ensure students have the cutting edge digital literacy and modern technological skills to lead the global economic, scientific and societal innovations of tomorrow.

These changes to the Computer Studies and the Technological Education curriculum also support the government’s plan to align curriculum changes with the province’s economic needs and place an emphasis on critical life and job skills, needed in the fast-growing skilled trades.

“I am proud to announce another step by our government to ensure students are prepared for the jobs of the future. This change will provide students with hands-on experience with technology, expose them to real-life problem solving, and enhance learning that focuses on giving young people the skills to think critically, dream boldly and chart new pathways forward for our economy,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “Our focus is to ensure our students have the most up-todate curriculum that strengthens life and job skills leading to rewarding careers in technology and innovation, including in the skilled trades.”

The two new curriculum changes to better prepare students for the jobs of
tomorrow are:

• A new Computer Studies curriculum, beginning with a new Grade 10 course
to be implemented in September 2023.
• A new Technological Education curriculum, beginning with revised Grade 9
and Grade 10 courses to be offered in September 2024.

The revised Technological Education curriculum, which has not been updated since 2009, will reflect the advancements in automation across sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and construction, which has increased the need for a highly skilled workforce. These revisions will help prepare students for high paying and rewarding careers in communications, the construction industry as electricians, plumbers, and the manufacturing sector.

“Our government continues to foster innovation by growing Ontario’s world-class workforce,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Every year, more than 65,000 students graduate from STEM related programs. By modernizing STEM and skilled trade-related courses, we’re ensuring our talent pool continues to grow and that Ontario businesses continue to innovate and thrive.”

Collingwood Collegiate Institute and Nottawasaga Pines Secondary School in Angus Receive Generous Donations

Nottawasaga Pines Secondary School Principal Kelly Lalonde with Simcoe-Grey MPP Brian Saunderson

Before Christmas, a partnership between the Canadian Tooling & Machining Association and the Ontario Council for Technology Education saw generous donations provided to both Collingwood Collegiate Institute and Nottawasaga Pines Secondary School in Angus to assist in upgrades to their skilled trades programs.

The Canadian Tooling & Machining Association (CTMA) and Ontario Council for Technology Education (OCTE), in partnership with 22 district school boards, has purchased and has been delivering new, high tech machine equipment for 40 high schools throughout Ontario.

“Our goal is to expose high school students to technology at an earlier age to engage their interest for a career within our industry,” said Robert Cattle, CTMA executive director. “Not only does this expose students to newer technology at an earlier age, but also gives teachers up-to-date equipment to implement in their classrooms.”

CTMA, OCTE begin deliveries of new advanced machinery to 40 high schools –
Canadian Tooling & Machining Association (CTMA)

The other half of the program will provide experiential work placements for high school co-op students, with a focus in the precision metal cutting sector. Each student will be paid an hourly rate while earning cooperative education credits.

“Our government is proud to be funding projects that exposes high school students to the skilled trades early on,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Ontario needs more skilled workers, and that starts with attracting more young people to these rewarding, well-paying and life-long careers. I want to congratulate the CTMA and OCTE for this incredible initiative.”

MPP Saunderson says the province is aware of the skilled trades worker shortage and continues to aggressively develop new, ground-breaking programs to provide Ontario students and working-age residents skills and training opportunities to help them find well-paying careers and as a result help Ontario manufacturers fill job vacancies with qualified skilled trade workers.