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New funding from province to help job retraining efforts

Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris visited the Tri-Mach Group facility in Elmira Monday to make an announcement alongside Tri-Mach CEO Krystal Darling, Kitchener South-Hespeler MPP Amy Fee and Willowdale MPP Stan Cho. [Sean Heeger]

The province hopes to offset some of the pandemic-led increase in unemployment numbers with $181 million in new training programs announced as part of last week’s Ontario budget.

Between March and May of 2020, employment declined by 15.3 per cent (1,156,500), hitting those in the hospitality and tourism sectors particularly hard, along with young workers and women. Despite a slight rebound in recent months, the jobless rate was at 9.6 per cent in October.

Stan Cho, parliamentary assistant to the minister of finance, joined Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris at the Tri-Mach Group’s Elmira location on Monday to highlight some of the new measures in the provincial budget.

“Now is the time to invest in retraining our workers so they are ready to contribute to our recovery. By connecting Ontarians with the training they need, we can ensure Ontario businesses like Tri-Mach can find the skilled workers they need to grow. That’s why our government is investing, an additional $181 million over the next three years in micro-credentials employment services and training. We’re also launching an unprecedented skills trade strategy, breaking the stigma, simplifying the system and encouraging employee participation in training and apprenticeships,” said Cho.

“Right now more than ever we need to concentrate on making sure that our domestic supply chain is protected. We have a high growth sector here in Tri-Mach with the manufacturing sector and we need to make sure that the skills match the jobs that are available, especially in light of COVID-19 when you had certain sectors like the hospitality sector hit very hard, disproportionately affecting many women. It’s [also] an opportunity to be able to retool the people who are out of jobs or maybe won’t be going back to their jobs for a while to fill a gap where the need is necessary.”

Cho said the province is in the process of rolling out the program, working on the steps necessary for businesses to take advantage of the funding.

Harris said the program will help businesses who are looking for a specific, skilled tradesperson, but are unable to find someone due to a lack of people with those necessary skills.

“For our rural townships here, obviously we’ve got quite a thriving industrial sector here in Elmira and Woolwich Township. We hear time and time again from businesses here that it’s really, really hard to find good, credentialed folks to come in and take part in that manufacturing [area].So, as Stan (Cho) had mentioned one of the nice things about this is the micro-credentialing part of it will help people retool from a career maybe in the hospitality sector or something where, unfortunately, they’ve lost their job or they’ve got reduced hours. They can go, they can do a very quick, concise course on being a machine operator, for example, and coming and working here at a place like Tri-Mach helping design some machines – [they] could be [taking] welding courses, it could be millwright courses, all kinds of different things that will help people retool and be able to move into a new sector for a new career,” said Harris.

Cho says he hopes people now consider a job in the skilled trades, noting there’s a stigma attached to such jobs that should be overcome given the number of good-paying jobs.

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