Ontario colleges are very disappointed to be shut out of the Ontario government’s announced funding for new skilled trades training centres.
“This is hugely disappointing for our students, our colleges, and employers in our communities,” said Glenn Vollebregt, St. Lawrence College President and CEO. “Colleges provide many of the best opportunities to prepare students for careers in the skilled trades and we have momentum created from decades-long connections with industry and employers to train the talent they need.”
The Ontario government announced it is investing $224 million to build and upgrade private training centres and will spend $75 million over the next three years on operations and programming at the centres.
It is inexplicable that colleges are excluded from the funding. Colleges play a dominant role in skills training, including the delivery of over 80 per cent of the in-class portion of apprenticeship training. They also have facilities already customized for training and skills development in the skilled trades. While some may require investment to be updated, colleges are currently located in over 200 municipalities across the province, meaning infrastructure already exists for the training being sought.
Colleges and industry agree that Ontario faces an escalating shortage of qualified people in key sectors, including the skilled trades, technology, and health care. The province estimates nearly 300,000 jobs are going unfilled at this time.
Ontario’s colleges are pivotal to producing graduates with the expertise to fill that demand. Colleges are urging the government to improve and expand the existing infrastructure and work with the sector on a more responsible approach to skills training that will bolster the economy and help more people find rewarding careers.
“Investing in college students and their future careers has to be a priority,” Vollebregt said. “College facilities, programs, faculty, and staff are ready to be part of the solution Ontario needs. Investing in upgrades to college facilities and helping strengthen and support the college system and our students is an affordable and efficient option for the government to consider. We are here and happy to collaborate.”