Ontario to expand mobile trades classroom efforts

The Trades & Tech Trucks are expected to reach nearly 500,000 people across the province.

One of Ontario’s Trades & Tech Trucks visits the Canadian Concrete Expo. – Skilled Trades Ontario

Key Takeaways:

  • Ontario announced it will spend $5.4 million to build and deploy three cutting-edge mobile tech classrooms.
  • The units will include hands-on stations and simulators the help young people experience welding , crane operation, electrical work and other trades.
  • The first Trades & Tech Truck was rolled out last year and reached around 40,000 people. The new trucks are expected to reach nearly 500,000.

The Whole Story:

Trades training is hitting the road in Ontario.

In a move to address the province’s labor shortage in the skilled trades sector, Ontario announced it will spend $5.4 million to build and deploy three cutting-edge mobile tech classrooms. These innovative classrooms, a collaborative effort with Skills Ontario, will traverse the province, imparting essential knowledge and practical skills to students and young individuals interested in pursuing careers in the skilled trades.

The mobile classrooms, named Trades & Tech Trucks, promise an immersive learning experience through hands-on stations and simulators, offering training opportunities in a diverse range of disciplines, including:

  • Electrical systems
  • Welding
  • Crane operation
  • Auto-painting
  • Tire and brake work
  • Heavy machinery

“By 2025, one in five jobs in Ontario will be in the skilled trades,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour. “These are rewarding, well-paying careers that you can build a family and a life around. That’s why our government will continue to invest in cutting-edge programs that give students the chance to experience the 144 trades and life-changing opportunities available to them.”

Experience a virtual tour of a Tech & Trades Truck. – Skilled Trades Ontario

The province is relying on tradespeople to help with its ambitious infrastructure plans that include constructing 1.5 million homes by 2031. To meet this goal, Ontario will require over 100,000 new skilled trades workers within the decade. The Trades & Tech Trucks, each measuring 12 meters in length, will serve as platforms for students to explore the skilled trades while engaging with industry professionals, discovering local training opportunities, colleges, and potential employers.

Ian Howcroft, CEO of Skills Ontario, spoke about the impact of their existing mobile classroom program, saying: “Since rolling out our first Trades & Tech truck last year, our mobile classroom has provided thousands of students with hands-on learning experiences. This program ignites an awareness of opportunities in the skilled trades and tech field that inspires more young people to pursue these careers. We want to thank and recognize Minister McNaughton and Premier Ford for the leadership and investments they have provided to build the skilled workforce of tomorrow.”

The efforts by the Ontario government have already shown promising results, with a 24 percent surge in apprenticeship registrations in the past year alone. This increase, which includes a 28 percent jump among women, is attributed to the government’s significant investment of over $1 billion in the skilled trades sector over three years and the establishment of the dedicated agency, Skilled Trades Ontario.

On the education side, the province intends to go even further. Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, announced plans to make technology education courses mandatory for all high school students starting September 2024. The new mobile tech classrooms will further complement this initiative by supporting 150,000 students annually, equipping them with the critical skills needed to secure well-paying jobs and thrive in the competitive job market.

The Trades & Tech Truck program was launched as a pilot in 2022. It reached over 40,000 students and young people across more than 50 events throughout the province, from Toronto to Ottawa and Thunder Bay.

Funded through the government’s Skills Development Fund, the new mobile classrooms are set to be fully operational by the summer of 2024, welcoming an annual footfall of 150,000 visitors.


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