(St. Thomas, ON) – Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek was joined by St. Thomas mayor Heather Jackson-Chapman, the Elgin Business Resource Centre, and the staff and students of Fanshawe College at Fanshawe’s St. Thomas campus to promote the PC Party’s plan to modernize Ontario’s apprenticeship system and create 200,000 skilled trades jobs.
Ontario is experiencing a jobs crisis. The unemployment rate has been above the national average for five years. At the same time, Ontario is also experiencing a skilled trades shortage, which is expected to top one million vacancies within a decade.
Yurek praised the work Fanshawe was doing to produce a highly skilled workforce. However, the McGuinty Liberals continue to cling to Ontario’s 1970s-era apprenticeship system that limits opportunities for new graduates by requiring businesses to employ three, four or even five journeymen to train a single apprentice. The Ontario PC Party has long championed a system that would reduce all apprentice-to-journeymen ratios to 1-to-1.
Jeff also highlighted the PC Party’s plan to give community colleges, like Fanshawe, a greater role in signing up new apprentices and connecting them with employers. “After all,” Yurek said, “the colleges understand the job needs of their communities and are therefore the best institutions to match students up with employers.”
Student Doug Sercombe – who was laid off from Sterling when it closed 3 years ago – joined Jeff to talk about his experience at Fanshawe and how the college helped him obtain a millwright apprenticeship with materials handling equipment manufacturer Tripp-Vogt-Trottier. Mayor Jackson-Chapman further highlighted the world-class nature of the education provided at Fanshawe by recalling how she encountered a Fanshawe recruitment centre in Japan.
Mr. Yurek stressed the importance of modernizing the apprenticeship system not only to increase opportunities for apprentices but to entice investment. “The reason businesses will want to locate here (St. Thomas and area), above anything else, is that we have the skilled workforce to get the job done.”
“What we need now is some political will to ensure you (Fanshawe students) have the opportunities that you’re working so hard to realize.” – Jeff Yurek, Ontario PC MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London
• The Ontario Ministry of Finance predicts that there will be over one million skilled job vacancies by 2021
• Under Dalton McGuinty’s watch, Ontario is producing 46 per cent fewer skilled tradespeople (per capita) than the rest of Canada
• Most provinces already have lower apprenticeship ratios than Ontario including: Newfoundland, and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta (some trades in Alberta even have ratios that allow one journeyman to train two apprentices)
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