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Early recruiting part of Ontario's plan to ease trades shortage

The province is spending millions of dollars to encourage people to work in the skilled trades.

Labour minister Monte McNaughton says skilled trades shortage costing province billions every year

Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development, says it's his personal mission to get kids more interested in the trades. (Julianne Hazlewood/CBC)

Ontario is spending millions of dollars to encourage people to work in the skilled trades.

Recently, the province announced more than $40 million to help address a "huge shortage" shortage of workers, Monte McNaughton, Ontario's Labour Minister said. 

About half of that money is earmarked to help employers train and hire more apprentices, the rest of the money is set aside for pre-apprenticeship training. 

McNaughton said it's been his mission since becoming minister to make it as easy as possible for students to find their way into a trade.

"I can't tell you how many times I've met young people and they say to me, 'I know how to become a doctor, I know how to become a lawyer or a teacher but I have no idea how to become an electrician or a carpenter'," McNaughton said. 

"That's what we want to change."

McNaughton said part of the approach will also focus on reducing the stigma around workers in the trades.

Once the province eases up restrictions, he said recruiters will be going into high schools, in effect competing with university recruiters for new students.

We need to spread opportunity in every community - Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour

"We've been on a mission to tell parents, tell young people and tell guidance counsellors that these careers are lucrative," McNaughton said. "I mean, in many cases, they earn six figures, and these jobs come with pensions and benefits."

"We need to spread opportunity in every community across the province," he said.

McNaughton said he also hopes to start giving students their first exposure to the trades as early as Grade 1.

"[It will start with] very basic elements of different trades," he said. "And we've also partnered with a group called Skills Ontario, and they're sending into classrooms actual tradespeople to talk in front of school groups across the province about the skilled trades."

For more information on Ontario's 144 skilled trades, visit Ontario.ca and search for apprenticeships.

With files from Morning North

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