A new government funded pre-apprenticeship program is helping train more skilled trades workers and fill the many manufacturing job openings across North Simcoe.

Georgian College, with the help of the Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe (EDCNS), managed to acquire provincial funding for the pre-apprenticeship program last year.

The 32-week program offered at Georgian College’s Robbert Hartog Midland campus, gives students a taste of industrial machining, welding and industrial electrical installation and repair. The program is fully funded by the province. Everything a student needs to be successful in the program, such as safety equipment, tools, books, and stationary is covered by the government.

“We give them a taste of three different types of trades. We also make sure they are upgraded and meet a Grade 12 level of academics,” said Denyse Wigglesworth, co-ordinator of pre-apprenticeship programs.

The program consists of 20 weeks of classroom and hands-on learning, followed by a 12-week government-subsidized paid placement.

“It is not an apprenticeship program,” said Wigglesworth. “They have to get to an employer; the employer has to feel it out and decide if they are a good fit for them, and that they want to take them on as an apprentice and make that investment.”

Last year, the program’s first at the Midland campus, 18 of 22 graduating students found employment. This was thanks in part to the relationship Georgian College has formed with EDCNS.

“Working with EDCNS has been brilliant from a placement perspective,” said Wigglesworth. “We have made connections in the field and we are using those connections.”

Across North Simcoe many manufacturers have job openings, but they are struggling to find the skilled people to fill those roles.

“At every one of our manufacturing roundtables, where we have 16 to 25 manufacturers, a lot of them are saying that if they had skilled talent available they could probably grow their business,” said Roy Ellis, chair of the EDCNS board of directors.

The EDCNS has been working hand in hand with local manufacturers to try and solve this shortage. One of the ways they are doing this is by partnering with Georgian College.

EDCNS estimates around 150 jobs were created in the region in 2018. A brief survey of manufacturers indicates that local business would like to add another 60 to 70 jobs this year.

Georgian College has benefited from this and already has commitments from local manufacturers to give their students a look once they graduate.

“There is no point in having this program if the employers don’t take the students,” said Ellis.

The Midland campus has 39,000 square feet of dedicated shop space. It offers welding, machining, electrical, plumbing, small engine technician and marine engine technician programs, among others.

“This program has been well known for a long time. We have a reputation of producing students that have good training,” said Wigglesworth.

“The only way a student is likely not going to get a job is because they don’t want one.”

A pre-apprenticeship program information session is being held in Midland on April 15 at 7 p.m.

Georgian College Multi Trades Program 2019