New program could give high school credit for trades apprenticeships for Ontario students


Published May 1, 2024 at 9:54 am

New program could give high school credit for trades apprenticeships for Ontario students

The province is looking to fast-track high school students interested in skilled trades toward a career and grow Ontario’s workforce with a new apprenticeship program.

Dubbed the Focused Apprenticeship Skills Training program, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development David Piccini announced plans for the hands-on initiative in Caledon on Wednesday.

Building on the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, the province says FAST will allow more Ontario students in Grades 11 and 12 to learn about becoming electricians, plumbers, carpenters and other skilled trades while earning co-operative education credits.

With the province set to introduce mandatory Technological Education courses for high school students starting in September, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the addition of the FAST program “will accelerate entrance into the skilled trades.”

The program would allow students to take up to 80 per cent of their senior courses in co-op education and receive a new seal on their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

“We are going back to basics in this province by restricting cell phones and social media, and banning vaping in Ontario schools to ensure students focus on learning and build skills that lead them into good-paying jobs,” Lecce said.

The province is also proposing legislation aimed at reducing barriers for workers who have prior professional experience but can’t meet academic entry requirements to register as an apprentice. Piccini said the policy would allow for skilled workers like refugees to get accreditation in Ontario.

Introduction of the new programs follows Lecce’s announcement last week of new measures banning cellphone use in classrooms, restricting access to all social media networks and banning vaping on school properties – policies the minister says show “that we can do better in Ontario.”

The province says it has supported 68 new pre-apprenticeship programs for over 1,700 participants this year, and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program has more than 72 recruiters across 800 schools to help students learn about the skilled trades at a younger age.

Under the new cellphone rules, kids in kindergarten to Grade 6 will now be required to keep phones on silent and out of sight for the entire school day unless they get explicit permission from an educator. Students in Grades 7 and up will see cellphone use banned during class time.

The new policy will also block access to all social media platforms on school networks and devices, a move the government says is the first of its kind among Canadian provinces.

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