The Ontario provincial government recently granted an additional $3.5 million to Skills Ontario raising it’s total investment for the 2020/2021 school year to $5 million. This money will be used to promote skilled trades to students from kindergarten to Grade 12.
The ministry interviewed hundreds of people from 18 to 30 years old to learn about their career choices. They found that people make their decision whether they’re going into the trades or not as early as Grade 7. That’s why the campaign will introduce the trades as early as Grade 1 to get students thinking about trades, and parents and educators thinking about the opportunities that are available to young people at a much earlier age. For example, Grade 1 students can learn about tools and their uses, as well as health and safety.
The money will help Skills Ontario deliver programs to students online during the pandemic and in classes after schools reopen. The school presentations will include Skills on Wheels, a new mobile, hands-on workshop.
Prior to COVID-19, the government launched a three-month marketing campaign to emphasize careers in the trades with the slogan ‘Find a Career You Wouldn’t Trade’. The campaign included video ads that played in movie theatres and on Tim Hortons TV across the province. The ad campaign featured skilled tradespeople talking about the different trades in their work environments, how well-paying they are (six figure salaries), and how meaningful and inspiring those careers are.
The ads are only one aspect of the government’s strategy to show young individuals the value of the trades. The government is also investing roughly $75 million in three programs to expose high school students to the trades:
- $12.7 million in the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program.
- $42 million in the Specialist High Skills major program.
- $20.8 million in a pre-apprenticeship program.
The Ontario Minister of Labour, Training, and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton, said that the goal was to do a better job at enticing young people and their parents to the skilled trades. He says that young people need to see the trades as a viable career path, especially due to the current labour shortage. McNaughton also wants to end the stigma that the trades are low paying jobs as this is simply untrue.
- For example, an elevator mechanic makes on average $108,000 per year
And, there are hundreds of other trades to choose from. According to the Province, over the first nine months of 2019 Ontario employers had, on average, 204,000 job openings, many in the skilled trades.
This is why as we transition out of the pandemic and enter into economic recovery these jobs are needed more than ever.
Overall, the government has a multitude of strategies set in place to expose children and adolescence to the skilled trades in hopes of ending the stigma and filling the skills gap.