The 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto is bringing new opportunities for apprentices.
On March 10, the Ontario government announced that it would be investing an additional $3 million into the Ontario Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program, which would create 200 new apprentice positions to work on the large-scale infrastructure projects that are accompanying the Games.
“A strong skilled trades sector is crucial to Ontario’s long term economic prosperity,” said Brad Duguid, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities at the expansion announcement. “Expanding the program will help 200 additional people get invaluable work experience while leaving a legacy of new and improved Ontario sport and recreation facilities for generations to come.”
The Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program is meant to help would-be apprentices develop the skills they need to become eligible for full-time apprenticeships.
Programs run for up to 52 weeks and may include Level One apprenticeship in-school training, or relevant apprenticeship training, relevant safety training and an eight to 12 week work placement in the fields of construction, industrial/manufacturing, motive power and service.
“Trainees will develop their job skills and gain valuable work experience with the skilled trades organizations that have been contracted to build world-class facilities for the 2015 Games,” said Zac Paget, special assistant to Brad Duguid, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.
“Investing in apprenticeship and skills training helps ensure that more people get jobs while employers find the skilled workers they need to improve their business,” he said.
Despite the expansion of the program, the Opposition has taken the Liberal government to task on the issue of apprentices.
Ontario faces a shortage of up to one million skilled trade workers over the next 10 years, according to the official opposition Progressive Conservative party. They argue that employers have jobs that need to be filled, but the current government has made it difficult for those who want to enter skilled trades.
“Our apprenticeship system is not meeting the needs of the 21st century economy and needs to be modernized,” said Garfield Dunlop, Tory MPP and official opposition critic for skilled trades.
“We have contractors across a host of industries that want to hire apprentices but they can’t because of an outdated and antiquated apprenticeship ratio system,” said Dunlop.
“When these young Ontarians can’t get an apprenticeship opportunity, they head for Alberta and Saskatchewan to complete their training and we often lose them forever.”
Paget argued that the government has had a record of success with apprenticeships in Ontario.
“We are investing approximately $165 million in the apprenticeship system this year,” he said. “Our government has long recognized the economic importance of a strong skilled trades sector.”