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Ontario to expand skilled trades program for high school students


October 31, 2019
By P&PC Staff

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The Ontario government is expanding the province’s Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program to include an additional 122 new programs aimed at encouraging more high school students to enter the skilled trades.

Stephen Lecce, minister of education, announced the investment on Oct. 31 during the lead-up to National Skilled Trades and Technology Week, which takes place Nov. 3-9, 2019.

“We know that a labour market shortage exists today and will rise over time in the high-paying skilled trades,” Lecce says in a release. “My top priority is to ensure students get the skills they need.”

It is estimated that by 2021, one in five new jobs in Ontario will be in trades-related occupations, but employers already facing a shortage of workers in key sectors.

“Our students need the skills and training necessary for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” says Ross Romano, Ontario’s minister of colleges and universities. “By offering programs like dual credits, students are not only gaining these skills, but doing so in ways that accelerate their careers and address employment gaps in Ontario quickly and efficiently.”

For the 2019-20 school year, the province’s SHSM will be expanded to include 122 new programs with a focus on the skilled trades across sectors such as manufacturing, construction and mining. As a result of the program expansion, it is estimated that more than 54,000 students will be enrolled in over 2,100 SHSM programs in more than 700 secondary schools across the province.

SHSM programs let students focus on a career path that matches their skills and interests while meeting the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). Students receive the SHSM seal on their diploma when they complete a specific bundle of 8-10 courses in the student’s selected field, earn industry certifications including first aid and CPR qualifications and gain skills on the job through cooperative education placements.

This expansion represents an additional government investment of over $10 million since 2017-18, bringing total funding to just over $42 million in 2019-20.