A new welding apprenticeship program will be introduced at Fanshawe College’s School of Applied Science and Technology in the fall.
Ontario Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton visited Fanshawe’s London campus to make the announcement on Wednesday. He was welcomed by Fanshawe President Peter Devlin and Dean for the Faculty of Science, Trades and Technology Stephen Patterson.
The welding apprenticeship program will kick off with an intake of 20 students in September 2023. Fanshawe College has a newly-renovated 50-station welding lab, one of the largest welding training facilities in southwestern Ontario.
This announcement comes as the province faces an ongoing labour shortage. The welding apprenticeship program is an effort to meet the demand for skilled tradespeople across Ontario.
McNaughton says that the city of London had over 3,300 postings for skilled trades jobs in the last few months alone.
In 2022, the government of Ontario reported that women, racialized groups, and immigrants are the demographics that are least represented in the skilled trades.
While introducing the welding program, Fanshawe College was proud to highlight the successes of one of the women in their program, Abigail King.
King is a Collision Damage Repair Technician. She went to Skills Ontario for her craft and received a gold medal at the national competition. King also went to Switzerland to represent Canada at the WorldSkills Competition.
McNaughton called King “a trailblazer for women in the skilled trades.”
King told London News Today that there were about six women in her program at Fanshawe.
Diversifying the skilled trades industry has been a major focus for the provincial government of late.
“The skilled trades are for absolutely everyone in Ontario. We’re trying to send a message that you don’t have to go to university to be successful in life. You can earn six figures with defined pensions and benefits regardless of what your background is in the skilled trades,” McNaughton said.
McNaughton previously helped launch an incentive program for employers to bring on apprentices, earning up to $17,000 per apprentice.
“[Employers] actually get more if they bring on young females, or indigenous people, or people from other underrepresented groups,” McNaughton explained. “So it’s an all-hands-on-deck effort to diversify the trades and to recruit more underrepresented people into the trades.”