Ontario Construction News staff writer
Ontario high school students will soon be required to pass a technological education course to graduate.
Starting in September 2024, students will be required to complete a Grade 9 or 10 technological education course, covering sectors such as construction, transportation, manufacturing, computer technology, hospitality and communication.
“The General Contractors’ Association of Toronto (GCAT) strongly supports revitalizing the graduation requirement for each student to complete a tech ed high school credit,” GTAT executive director Jim Vlahos said in a statement. “The skilled trades offer in-demand, lucrative and rewarding careers and we believe the mandatory credit will expose students to opportunities they would not have known of otherwise.
“GCAT applauds the work this government continues to do to address our labour shortage while promoting careers in construction, including the skilled trades and to provide a healthy perception of the construction industry to help make an informed career decision.”
The government is framing the move as a way to get more young people into the skilled trades, particularly young women.
“I am proud to announce another step forward to ensure all students learn the critical skills necessary to succeed and get a good paying job,” said Stephen Lecce, minister of education. “By requiring students to take at least one technological education credit in high school, we are opening up doors and creating new pathways to good jobs in STEM and the skilled trades.
“All students will benefit from a greater emphasis on hands-on learning experiences and technical skills in the classroom so they can graduate with a competitive advantage in this country.”
The new graduation requirement will expose Ontario’s students to at least one Technological Education course that could guide them to a future career in the highly skilled workforce, including the skilled trades. With more than 100,000 unfilled skilled trades jobs right now, it is critical Ontario attracts more young people to pursue a fulfilling, good-paying career in the trades.
Tech curriculum covers a broad range of sectors, including construction, transportation, manufacturing, computer technology, hospitality and communication. In Ontario, men make up more than 70 per cent of workers in trades-related occupations. The exposure to these career pathways as a mandatory graduation curriculum requirement will ensure more young women make the choice to pursue a career in the trades.
“Skills Ontario is pleased and fully supportive of today’s announcement requiring students to take Tech Education classes as part of the curriculum,” said Ian Howcroft, CEO, Skills Ontario. “We have long advocated that students need more exposure to and experiential opportunities with skilled trades and technology.
“This change will result in more students being introduced to skilled trades and technology, which will help to address our skills shortages and move more people to fulfilling and rewarding careers. This is another example of Ontario’s leadership in developing and delivering skills solutions that will benefit the province, our economy and our standard of living.”
The change supports the next steps in Ontario’s Plan to Catch Up and ensures students have exposure and access to learning opportunities to consider STEM fields, including in the skilled trades, as a future career.
It’s projected that, by 2026, approximately one in five job openings in Ontario will be in skilled trades-related fields.
“There aren’t enough skilled workers in Ontario but attracting more women to these jobs will go a long way,” said Harseshaj Dhami, founder of Codespire. “With the growing demand for jobs in STEM and Skilled Trades, I applaud the Government of Ontario for requiring high school students to take at least one technological education credit before graduation.
“The exposure to these courses will give women a greater opportunity to explore these career paths. Tech is the future, and it’s high time we ensure that all of Ontario’s youth – regardless of race, gender or social class – are given the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow.”