New Ontario Curriculum to Welcome Younger Students to the Trades

The Ontario government has enacted a big push to boost the number of skilled trades apprenticeships in the province in the last year. The newest initiative by the provincial government is to encourage younger students to be exposed to the trades by Grade One. The curriculum has recently been modified to reintroduce shop classes and other programs with the aim of helping young students finish High School by Grade 11 to train as an apprentice in their skilled trade category.

Starting in September 2024, Ontario students entering Grade Nine will be required to take a “technological education credit” curriculum that focuses on construction, transportation, manufacturing, and other programs. According to Education Minister, Stephen Lecce, the purpose of implementing this course is to “create new pathways to good jobs in STEM and in the skilled trades.” It’s also to expedite the learning experiences for students looking to pursue a career in the trades and enter their apprenticeship more quickly. “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.”

Currently, almost 39 per cent of Ontario secondary school students have enrolled in a skilled-trades-related course between 2020 to 2021. Yet, there are almost 100,000 skilled trades jobs that are left vacant in the province at this moment, hence the government’s push to have these roles filled. Charmaine Williams, an associate member of women’s social and economic opportunity, believes that for Ontario’s skilled trades sector to succeed, there needs to be more inclusion of women and girls. This curriculum has the potential to encourage young women to continue joining the trades.

“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.”

It’s anticipated that by 2023, roughly one in five jobs in the skilled trades sector are expected to open up. In addition, Ontario needs roughly 256,000 new trade apprentices to fill the gap and is expecting the new curriculum to support this issue.

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