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Ontario Training Indigenous People for Well-Paying Jobs in the Skilled Trades

Arafat Rahman

The Ontario government is investing $1.5 million in three Thunder Bay training projects to make it easier for people in Northern Ontario to start rewarding careers in the skilled trades and address critical labour shortages in forestry and mining. Over 100 Indigenous people will get practical, hands-on training and apprenticeship experience to prepare for well-paying jobs in the North. These opportunities are part of a record investment of more than $77 million the province is making this year to get more young people into in-demand skilled trades careers.

“Careers in the skilled trades offer the opportunity to work anywhere, and the good pay to buy a home and raise a family,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Our government is proud to bring these purpose-driven careers within reach for more Indigenous communities in the North, and for more young people across our province to help tackle our historic labour shortage.”

Two of the pre-apprenticeship training projects in Thunder Bay are run by Anishinabek Employment and Training Services (AETS), with the Carpenters Union Local 1669 and Confederation College. They will introduce participants to general carpentry as well as the basics of welding and electrical trades. Participants will get classroom training and a 12-week paid work placement to gain valuable hands-on experience. Funding is from Ontario’s $28 million pre-apprenticeship program – the highest amount in provincial history.

The government is also investing $644,000 in the Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services (KKETS) to help 35 Indigenous people prepare for well-paying jobs as construction craft workers, plumbers and electricians. The program is free for participants and available to anyone from the nine Matawa First Nations communities in the Thunder Bay region.

“Ensuring prosperous communities for both Indigenous people and Northern Ontarians is a top priority for our government”, said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development and Indigenous Affairs. “This investment opens the door for Ontarians to make a change in their career, leading to an improved quality of life for themselves and their families while filling crucial gaps in the skilled trades.”

To make it easier for employers around the province to take on new apprentices, the province has also increased funding for the Achievement Incentive program by more than $24 million this year, bringing total funding for the program to $49 million. The program encourages apprentice training progression, completion, and trade certification through milestone payments to businesses of up to $17,000 per apprentice.

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