I remember talking to someone who had immigrated to Canada and become a trades teacher. He told me that we have been depending on immigrant trades people for generations. But now, a lot of immigrants are white collar workers. It’s a change we need to address.
We have to break through the stigma that a career in a trade is a bad thing, something lower than becoming a doctor, lawyer or teacher. We need to change a lot of our philosophies throughout our education system.
Monte McNaughton, the Minister of Labour, Trades and Skills Development, has been focusing on this issue and it’s starting to show results.
I’ve been working very closely with the people at Conestoga College and the local school boards. We’re getting a positive reception from all of them.
Conestoga is running trade programs at its facility at the Brantford Airport. One that is so interesting is their Agricultural Equipment Operator program. The students will end up operating and maintaining the increasingly complex machinery we need to grow our food. This is particularly important in Brantford-Brant because of significant role agriculture plays in our economy.
We teamed up with the federal government to provide Conestoga with $180,000 to help develop the program.
We’re also supporting apprenticeship training programs for machinists, cooks and welders at Six Nations Polytech with funding of $395,000. Graduates will be able to take up some of the 21,000 vacant jobs in those fields here and in nearby communities.
Employers are taking the lead too. Jamie Bowman of Bowman Precision Tooling goes out of his way to find young people and get them into training so they can get into these highly skilled positions.
It’s even happening at home. My son Jack has just finished high school and has started training to become an electrician.
It’s great to see that the message that trades offer a path to a successful, prosperous future is taking hold.