Georgian College’s new fast-track trades program aims to fill job gap

The need for skilled tradespeople is growing in Ontario, and Georgian College wants to help with a new accelerated program.

For the first time this year, the Barrie-based college is offering a program on its Bracebridge campus that allows students to learn multiple trades in just eight months.

“Many of us across the province have realized how difficult it is right now to hire a plumber to fix a leaking bathroom faucet or a contractor to do a renovation. It’s a real challenge,” said James Fielding, Georgian College Bracebridge campus manager.

Fielding said the Techniques program helps aspiring artisans connect with their passion and find the right career for them.

The program includes training and tools for carpenters, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, gas technicians, heating and cooling mechanics, small engine mechanics and CAD draftsmen.

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“There are a lot of well-paying careers in this list,” Fielding said. “And that allows graduates to make informed decisions about their future career path.”

One of the students participating in the program is Timothy Reid.

He came to the program with years of experience working with his father, Wayne, who ran a carpentry and service business in the Muskoka area before his death on Father’s Day in 2020.

“I want to carry the torch on for him,” Reid said. “He taught me how to find the right clients who appreciate your work and also how to give back when you can.”

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Reid said he hopes to open his own business and continue his family’s deep roots in Muskoka.

The need for local artisans is growing after the pandemic prompted many to move to Cottage Country full-time.

Simone Marsden, who heads BASK Insulation in Port Carling, said the workforce has been limited over the past three years but demand has increased by 30 per cent.

“For a short period of time, our population is skyrocketing, and to meet that construction demand, our local population just isn’t enough,” Marsden said.

She believes programs like the one offered at Georgian College will help meet some of the demand and keep passionate artisans in the area.

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Although meeting the growing demand in the province is a steep task. According to Skilled Trades Ontario, 70,000 new artisans will be needed over the next six years.

“We have youth coming out of high school who are potentially entering the workforce now, this is a critical time,” said Melissa Young, CEO of Skilled Trades Ontario.

Young mentioned that marketing is being ramped up to attract more young up-and-coming artisans and is looking outside of Canada for skilled labor to meet demand.

Georgian College commercial engineering students are expected to graduate in Spring 2023 and the program is scheduled to expand in the second year.

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