Guest blogger: Gail Smyth
Voices from HEQCO’s November 2014 conference
Hands On: Exploring Apprenticeship and the Skilled Trades
Today’s graduates are facing challenging times; they have been in school for most of their lives, have little to no work experience in their field of expertise and a large number of graduates may be facing years of financial responsibility before their student loans have been cleared.
At the same time, Ontario is facing a skills shortage, leaving thousands of unfilled opportunities in the skilled trades and technology industries. We need to shift our conversations about education and the future of Ontario’s youth to include these career opportunities in the interest of Ontario’s future economy so that employees are well-trained and passionate about their careers.
Our knowledge of learning styles has developed over the last three decades; sitting in a lecture hall simply does not work for everyone. It’s time we rethink careers in the skilled trades and technologies as viable first-choice career options for our young people. Working in these industries can lead youth to personal fulfillment in exciting careers such as millwrights, fashion designers, culinary artists, sound and lighting technicians and many others. These careers can also help youth develop the entrepreneurial skills to launch their own small businesses.
Ontario needs skilled workers and Ontario’s youth need opportunities to succeed; the two go hand in hand. Promoting careers in the skilled trades and technologies is the focus of Skills Ontario. For the past 25 years we’ve been working with government, colleges, high schools, elementary schools and our network of sponsors to spread the message that our future workforce can lead happy, safe and fulfilling lives when they choose to embark on the adventure that is the skilled trades and technologies.
Skills Ontario programs include the Young Women’s Initiatives, where girls in grades 7 through 12 learn about careers in the skilled trades and technologies; Aboriginal Initiatives that include a summer camp and mentorship program; and the Ontario Technological Skills Competition — Canada’s largest skilled trades and technology competition.
When we broaden the education discussion to embrace opportunities in the skilled trades and technologies, we’ll all succeed in a brighter and better future.
Gail Smyth is executive director of Skills Canada – Ontario. Learn more about the programs and initiatives on Facebook and Twitter.
Our opinion is that the opinions expressed by our guest bloggers are their opinion, and not necessarily those of HEQCO.