Pre-Apprenticeship Programs strive to close the skilled trades gap and break down employment barriers

With funding from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD), Durham College (DC) has launched three Pre-Apprenticeship programs to increase the number of Canadians who are job-ready in a skilled trade, and employment-seekers facing higher barriers to entry. The programs are offered at no cost to participants, as tuition, tools, textbooks and safety equipment are covered with the help of government funding.

“Predictions from Colleges Ontario show that the province will face a shortage of more than 500,000 skilled trade workers by 2030,” says Dr. Rebecca Milburn, executive dean, School of Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship & Renewable Technology. “In response to this anticipated gap, DC is proud to partner with YMCA Durham as we lead the way in growing Ontario’s skilled trade labour force with our Pre-Apprenticeship programs.”

The college has selected three trades facing an immediate demand for employable workers and developed programs to train students from marginalized communities who want the necessary qualifications to enter or advance in the skilled trades. The following programs are currently underway, with 60 anticipated graduates by November 2022.

Electrical for Indigenous Peoples

According to the Electricity Sector Council Aboriginal Participation Initiatives Project, attracting workers to the electrical sector is an ongoing struggle owing to limited awareness of the available opportunities. However, the report also demonstrates a need for increased Indigenous participation in the electricity sector to help fill skill gaps and build a workforce in remote locations.

Furthermore, creating trained workers in the electrical industry will be crucial in the coming years, as the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum’s (CAF) Apprentice Demand: 2021 Labour Market Information Report predicts that 61,000 Ontario workers in Red Seal trades will retire in the next decade.

DC’s Pre-Apprenticeship Electrical program will provide another pathway to directly address the unemployment and underemployment of Indigenous Peoples in the skilled trades, while simultaneously tackling the expected labour market shortage.

Plumbing for Newcomers

Reports from the MLTSD indicate there will be over 9,000 plumbing jobs available in Ontario from 2019 to 2028. While there is a demand for plumbers, increased challenges to receiving the credentials make it difficult for newcomers to enter the trades. In fact, research from the CAF indicates that despite representing 20 per cent of the Canadian population, newcomers only make up three to five per cent of all apprentices.

DC’s new Pre-Apprenticeship program will help newcomers succeed in the industry by providing quality training and addressing the barriers faced such as a lack of knowledge of skilled trade opportunities and limited access to resources such as business networks or employer connections.

Welding for Women

The Government of Ontario’s labour market research shows that men make up the overwhelming majority of workers in the welding (95 per cent) trade. As an increasing number of Red Seal trades employees are set to retire, there is a demand to train unrepresented and underrepresented groups of Canadians, such as women. With the help of DC, those interested in pursuing a welding career will be given the support required to overcome gender-related barriers of entry while gaining the technical knowledge and hands-on skills needed to pursue a career in the industry.

For those interested in learning more, please visit our Pre-Apprenticeship program page.