St. Clair seeks grant money for pre-apprenticeship programs

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Windsor Star/Mary Caton


St. Clair offers pre-apprenticeship training as a general machinist, diesel mechanic and brick and stone mason


St. Clair College will seek a share of recently announced government funding for pre-apprenticeship training as a general machinist, diesel mechanic and brick and stone mason.

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities announced Monday a $13.2 million investment in pre-apprenticeship training for approximately 1,200 people across the province for 2018-19.

"Every year they go out with a call for applications for the pre-apprenticeship training programs,” said Waseem Habash, St. Clair’s vice president of academics. “We send in applications for some of the programs we have the expertise to deliver.”

St. Clair typically offers two student intakes for general machinist and one each for brick and stone masonry and diesel mechanic, also referred to as truck and coach.

Habash said the college also helps Women’s Enterprise Skills Training (WEST) with their programs for skilled trades training for classes of all female students.

Approved programs last up to one year and typically combine apprenticeship training with a work placement. The programs offer free training, textbooks, safety equipment and tools.

They’re designed to help people who are interested in an apprenticeship but lack the skills and experience to gain employment as apprentices.

“Pre-apprenticeships are a great thing,” Habash said. “It’s free for the students. They get textbooks and tools. It’s all about introducing them to a trade and after the program they can apply for an apprenticeship.”

Applications for funding will be accepted from now until Nov. 23. Approved programs will be notified in January 2019.

“Ontario is open for business again,” Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, said in a news release, with a clear reference to the Making Ontario Open for Business Act.

“With one in five new jobs expected to be in the trades-related occupations by 2021, we need to train more skilled workers to keep our economy strong.”

The Open for Business Act riled local union officials last month with its plans to reform apprenticeship programs for skilled trades and scrap the Ontario College of Trades.

David Cassidy, the president of Unifor 444, has described the government’s plan as simply an attempt to water down the training and oversight now in place.