New trade school hopes to ease skills shortage in northern Ontario

Dean Derro, General Manager of the Northern Construction Academy, says there is a particular need for skilled tradespeople in northern Ontario.

Big shortage of skilled drivers ahead, says Dean Derro, GM of Northern Construction Academy

The Northern Construction Academy says it wants to help fill the skills gap by training people to supply the mining and construction industries with drivers and logistics help. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

A new trades school in Sudbury is aiming to fill a skills gap in northern Ontario.

Since March, the Northern Ontario Construction Academy has been offering truck and heavy equipment training programs. 

Dean Derro, General Manager of the academy, said there is a particular need for skilled tradespeople in northern Ontario.

'With the last of the baby boomers retiring or slowing down, it's creating a huge demand for skilled trades," Derro said. "Heavy equipment operators and truck drivers are extremely important in society. And these days it's considered essential services as well, and even that much more important the further north you go in Ontario."

"So we intend to focus on the north and help create a better workforce."

Derro said he's been working on getting the academy rolling, which includes the process of being approved by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities. The pandemic slowed their plans a bit, but now they're well-suited to help relieve some of the pressure on the work force.

"We have our ups and downs up here, but we're very industry-based and mining-based and a lot of infrastructure supports our economy in the north," Derro said.

"There's also a demand for trucking and logistics up here, as well as construction. You know, obviously it happens everywhere, but the north really depends on this, on these industries to support our economies."

Mining companies, Derro said, have been leading the pack when it comes to demand for a well-trained workforce.

"We've been hearing for years, from contractors and logistics companies, how they're expressing their need for trained workers ready to operate their trucks and their construction equipment," Derro said. "They're really challenged in finding people that can just jump into the equipment and go."

"So our goal is to to assist with filling that need and training people to do things safely."

You can find more information about the Northern Construction Academy by visiting their web site.





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