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Friday, April 10, 2015

Province boosts funding for apprenticeship programs

The Windsor Star/Mary Caton

St. Clair College could replace some of its worn out or out-dated machinery thanks to a government funding boost announced Thursday for apprenticeship training programs.

The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities announced an additional $55-million investment into three program streams.

“This investment will help the next generation of skilled tradespeople access the training, equipment and facilities they need to get good jobs,” the news release said.

The money is split between the Apprenticeship Enhancement Fund ($23 million over two years), the Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program ($13 million over two years) and a third program for colleges and training organizations ($19 million over three years).

Exactly how much is earmarked for St. Clair or other Windsor/Essex programs isn’t known yet.

“The ministry has not finalized estimates at this time,” said May Nazar, senior media relations co-ordinator for the ministry.

The AEF fund is an annual capital renewal program that covers costs associated with replacing machinery or construction of new facilities.

The initial AEF allocation to Ontario apprenticeship programs for the 2015-16 school year is $14 million. The allocation made to St. Clair College for the next school year is slightly more than $500,000, according to Robert Chittim, chair of the school of skilled trades.

“There may be some additional funds when they roll this out,” Chittim said.

He said the money goes towards replacing anything and everything from a power tool worth $200 to a $50,000 oven for the culinary arts program. Even the 12-year-old Ford Centre for Excellence in Manufacturing could use some upgrades, he said.

St. Clair offers 16 apprenticeship programs that will train 1,000 students this year.

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