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Investment in provincial pre-apprenticeship program opening doors to careers

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Ontario’s Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program is receiving a large infusion of funding from the provincial government.

On Wednesday, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announcing another $5-million at an event in London, expanding annual funding to $28-million.

Between March 2020 and April 2021, the program offered a free opportunity for 1,780 people with no experience in skilled trades to learn basic skills in preparation for an apprenticeship.

“The cooking and baking trades, arborists, construction trades, it really is endless. We need people and parents to know there are 140 different trades to choose from,” explained McNaughton.

After years on a carousel of temporary jobs, a Sarnia father says the program has led to a rewarding career.

“My life has totally changed since I entered this program,” says 40-year old Hopeton Powell. “I always wanted a steady job. A career. But every time I got a job it would finish, or there’d be a shortage of work.”

As he lay bricks inside the Ontario Masonry Training Centre in London, Powell explained how 16 weeks in the program gave him a foundation of skills to begin his formal apprenticeship.

“First day the foreman asked can you do this? Can you do that? And I could do it because I learned those skills in the pre-apprentice course,” he recalls.

In Ontario, one out over every three journeypersons in the skilled trades is over 55 years old.

McNaughton believes the program can attract new workers and combat the region’s lagging labour participation rate.

Brick by brick, Powell hopes to eventually build his own masonry company and continue to show his children the value of skilled trades careers.

“When I pass with my kids I’m able to say, ‘See that building? I worked on it!’”

Details about the pre-apprenticeship program can be found by contacting Employment Ontario.

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