Ontario pumps $18 million into apprenticeship program

But Ontario Chamber of Commerce says much more is needed because, "being a plumber in 2010 will be like being a computer programmer in the 1990s."
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 11/02/2004

The Ontario government is putting $18 million into the province’s apprenticeship training program.

Premier Dalton McGuinty said the money will help build the most highly skilled workforce in North America.

“We won’t let skills shortages hold our economy back,” said McGuinty. “The best workers will attract the best jobs with the highest pay, and our goal is to build the best workforce in North America.”

The government said the cash will benefit about 28,000 apprentices across Ontario by helping colleges update their classrooms and equipment, develop new training materials and provide flexible alternatives such as distance education.

People training to be cooks, cabinetmakers, welders, automotive service technicians and others will be able to learn on the most up-to-date equipment, study cutting-edge technology and have access to new teaching techniques, the province said.

“We must rank ourselves with the world’s best,” said Mary Anne Chambers, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. “Not just because that’s a goal we can achieve, but because every day of the year we are competing head-to-head with the world’s best for new investments and jobs.”

But the Ontario Chamber of Commerce criticized the province, stating that $18 million is simply not enough to adequately address the problem.

“We are pleased that the government has recognized that there is a problem, and we are pleased that the government is committing funding to address the problem,” said Stuart Johnston, vice-president of policy and government relations for the chamber. “But Ontario is on the edge of a major skills shortage, and $18 million just isn’t enough.”

The chamber called it a positive first step, but much more needs to be done. A study by the chamber shows that 52 per cent of skilled trades workers in Ontario are expected to retire in the next 15 years, with 41 per cent of respondents indicating they will face a skills shortage in their industry within five years. (The full study is available online at



“The problem is real, the solutions are clear,” said Johnston. “What is needed now is a real commitment by government that they are willing to step up to the plate and provide solutions, not tokens. Skilled trades are the jobs of the future — being a plumber in 2010 will be like being a computer programmer in the 1990s."

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