Ontario Construction News staff writer
Skills Ontario’s new mobile skills unit was premiered at the 13th Ontario General Contractors Association (OGCA) construction symposium last week.
The unit, which will travel to community events and schools, provides opportunities to test out various trades with simulators and hands-on activities.
“Everything in here is capable of training an apprentice,” said Jennifer Green, describing the crane simulator that can move, jiggle and make sounds; the electrical trainer that includes working traffic signals and the welding simulator that can be used with virtual reality headsets.
There’s also a tire-changing station and a power tool station and a 10-in-one virtual painting activity where participants can test their skills.
Paul Clipsham, director of stakeholder relations at Skills Ontario was demonstrating the activity stations on the unit’s maiden voyage at Blue Mountain. The next stop for the mobile skills unit will be the Toronto home show.
While the primary target for the 500-square-foot mobile classroom is students of all ages, Clipsham said there is another important audience.
“Parents are often a barrier to getting (kids) into the trades and we want to reach them as well. We really want to give people a taste of the trades.”
The cost to build and stock the 42-foot truck was about $1 million. It was only possible with massive in-kind donations from various construction companies. It is wheelchair accessible, has more than a dozen activities that can be rotated inside and will travel across the province.
It’s one of many new initiatives that Skills Ontario has developed to attract new people to skilled trades and technology. There’s also a new day-in-the-life series on the You Tube channel and a mobile app that offers information about various trades and a quick test that provides three top career options based on answers to a few questions.
“This is skilled trades exploration at your fingertips,” Green said, showcasing the Skills Ontario app. “It allows you to pick a career, find out the pay, what’s involved and find resources to explore.
“We will make sure you find something that you love and you can learn how to do it.”