The province is offering funding from the cap-and-trade program to training centres looking to develop programs focused on training high skilled workers for low-carbon building jobs.

The $24-million is a one-year investment that will require training centres to apply for part of the funding. 

"That's the advantage of cap-and-trade," said Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development Deb Matthews. "We both tax a bad thing - carbon emissions - and we spend every penny of that, further reducing our carbon footprint."

She said the province expects to see about a billion dollars in funding come from the cap-and-trade program that will be re-invested into Ontario. 

Matthews said training centres could apply for the funding to teach workers to retrofit old apartments with green technology, for example.

"Imagine an old apartment building that was built in the 70s, the windows are leaky, are drafty," said Matthews. "Probably not as well insulated as we would want today."

She said the people who re-fit these buildings need proper training to install green-energy upgrades. 

Matthews said she'd recently spoken to someone in the HVAC industry about gaps in training. 

"He said that when he goes to do those inspections what he often find is that they use all the right materials, the building was designed to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards," said Matthews.

"But the actual people who were installing that didn't have the skills — didn't know what they had to do to make sure that those were being used appropriatly."

Skills Gap

Fanshawe College President Peter Devlin said the announcement was "exciting" and said the school plans to apply for some of the funding. 

He said hearing Matthews talk about a possible skill gap in Ontario is worrying.

"Yes, it does concern me," said Devlin. "I can tell you that in speaking with the trades folks here today they are all full — there's waiting times to have something built in the London area."

Fanshawe College does offer programs for skilled trades in London, Devlin said. The Renewable Energy Program on the St. Thomas campus is one example of the school pushing towards current industry needs, he added. 

"We try to be, as best we can, ahead of opportunities across everything from trades to business to health," said Devlin.