Kent transport

Province Funds Skilled Trades Training Program Unique to Chatham-Kent

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A program launched and designed in Chatham-Kent will introduce local youth aged 15 to 29 to the skilled trades, thanks to provincial funding.

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Labor Minister Monte McNaughton visited Chatham on April 14 to announce more than $215,000 in funding for a program run by the Prosperity Roundtable to “give more young people a helping hand into careers rewarding and lasting opportunities in the skilled trades”.

He said the new Ambition Trailer project will provide unemployed and underemployed youth with the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the skilled trades.

Starting in June, 75 future tradespeople will receive a tool belt with basic tools worth $150, a shuttle to provide transportation to their training, and a paycheck while they learn during three weeks, he added.

McNaughton said it’s projects like this that will “unleash the ambition of young people right here in our community.”

William Laurie, Trades and Youth Mentor for the Prosperity Roundtable, described this investment in the Ambition Trailer project through the Ontario Skills Development Fund as a “game changer” that opens up exciting new opportunities for the next generation to enter the skilled trades.

“Through flexible training and employment opportunities, participants will learn a wide range of new skills, gain essential skills for gainful employment, and be exposed to a variety of occupations while receiving income,” Laurie said.

He added that the program will also work with Adult Language Learning to provide literacy and life skills training.

“I believe that literacy and essential skills training is a critical component in preparing young adults for this dynamic and growing career in the skilled trades,” said Laurie.

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This is lifelong learning, added Tracy Callaghan, Executive Director of Adult Learning and Language.

“So we kickstarted those people and helped them take that next step and that’s really important,” she said.

Phil Mock, coordinator of the Prosperity Roundtable project, said the program “is an introduction to what a career in commerce can offer”.

“We hope it’s broad, exciting and energizing for participants,” he added.

Mock said the idea for the project was incubated by the Skilled Trades Action Team, a multi-sectoral group of business, employers, education, government and community partners.

“We were very lucky to work with the ministry and the municipality to put this grant in place,” he said.

Mayor Darrin Canniff said the program is an innovative solution from Chatham-Kent that is not replicated anywhere else in Ontario.

He credited McNaughton for moving quickly to help Chatham-Kent secure the funding within three to four weeks of his approach.

The mayor said local businesses need skilled workers.

“Every employer I talk to, without exception, says, ‘My number one problem is finding people,'” Canniff said. “Our economy could grow tremendously if we started bringing more people here.”

There’s no shortage of opportunities in the skilled trades, McNaughton said.

“Our province is facing the greatest labor shortage in a generation,” he said.

In Chatham-Kent, there have been more than 2,000 job openings for skilled trades over the past six months, the minister added.

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By 2025, one in five jobs in Ontario will be in the skilled trades, McNaughton said.

Although this training is an introduction, it is up to the participants to take it to the next level by pursuing apprenticeships, jobs or completing post-secondary training.

McNaughton said the Tools in the Trades boot camps offered in Ontario high schools to introduce young people to the skilled trades have been a success.

“I am proud to report that this initiative alone has now recruited over 600 apprentices across the province and introduced the skilled trades to thousands more young people,” he said.

More details on how to apply for the training will be forthcoming, organizers said.

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