Fast-tracking Trades: Ontario to allow high school students to take up to 80 percent of senior courses in trades-based co-op education

Toronto, Ontario — According to a recent Ontario government newsroom release, the provincial government is introducing a new policy and legislative measures to allow 80 percent of high school students’ senior courses to be in trades-based co-op education.

The goal of the new policy is to help attract more young people to the trades by specifically adding a new apprenticeship pathway and an online job matching platform.

The press release notes that “building on the successful Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), Ontario is creating a new stream called Focused Apprenticeship Skills Training (FAST), that will allow students in Grades 11 and 12 to participate in more apprenticeship learning through additional co-operative education credits while completing high school. Graduates would receive a new seal on their Ontario Secondary School Diploma to signify their successful completion of the program and recognize them for their dedication to learning in the skilled trades.”

Moreover, the press release further notes that Ontario is also “proposing legislative measures to reduce barriers to apprenticeship training for workers who have prior professional experience, but cannot meet certain academic entry requirements to register as an apprentice.”

Through this policy change, alternate pathways for people interested in the skilled trades, and who meet alternative criteria such as minimum years out of high school and work history, would be made accessible.

In regards to the FAST program, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education commented that “we are proud to announce the new Focused Apprenticeship Skills Training program that will now allow students to take up to 80 percent of their senior courses in co-op education. This will accelerate entrance into the skilled trades, supported by the mandatory requirement for all students to take at least one Technological Education course starting this September.”

Collision Repair magazine also reached out to William Speed, retired TDSB auto body teacher who “applauds the government for advocating for the skilled trades. In my opinion, many of the benchmarks are already in place with the OYAP and SHSM programs. I also think the job portal is a great idea.”

When asked further about the proposed guidelines, Speed commented that “I did not see any mention of how this will be marketed to guidance counselors and parents. I have heard from colleagues that they are having difficulty finding tech teachers and the classes are being opened up to almost every teacher willing to teach them. This concerns me. Additionally, in as much as I support the idea of starting apprenticeship while still in high school, many of the apprentice-based trades are not represented in many, if at all high schools. The mid 90s saw the demise of many specialized programs, partly due to declining enrollment and partly due to the curriculum changes.”

Speed concluded that he “hopes there will be finds allocated to upgrade the high school programs and the teacher bumping process” to ensure that students are given the proper foundations for success. He also “believes there needs to be more accountability on the government side making sure apprentices get signed and are monitored so that they process through the levels of training” at the college level.

To see the full news release, click here.



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