London, Ontario — A class of future welders will finally be able to make use of Fanshawe College’s recently renovated welding lab, as the college announced Wednesday that it will launch a new welding apprenticeship program ahead of the coming fall semester.
Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton was on hand, alongside Fanshawe president Peter Devlin and Dean for the Faculty of Science, Trades and Technology Stephen Patterson, to announce that 20 students will be the first to grace the college’s state-of-the-art welding facility in September.
According to McNaughton, the city of London had more than 3,300 postings for skilled trades jobs in the last few months alone.
As well, he mentioned that demographics such as women, racialized populations and immigrants are still underrepresented in the trades, but pointed to Fanshawe’s own WorldSkills competitor and friend of Collision Repair, Abigail King, as one of the institution’s current shining stars.
King, a SkillsCanada national gold medalist who recently competed on the world stage at a WorldSkills event in Switzerland, was referred to as “a trailblazer for women in the skilled trades,” by McNaughton.
She says that she is one of only about six women in her program at Fanshawe.
“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,” said McNaughton.
The Ontario government has put in place an incentive program for employers that could earn them $17,000 for every apprentice they take on, with special bonuses applied to the hiring of these underrepresented demographics.
“[Employers] actually get more if they bring on young females, or indigenous people, or people from other underrepresented groups,” said McNaughton.
“So it’s an all-hands-on-deck effort to diversify the trades and to recruit more underrepresented people into the trades.”
For more information on Fanshawe College’s new welding apprenticeship program, visit the college’s website.