Through diverse pathways, expanded programming, and wraparound support, Niagara College offers an inclusive environment to anyone wishing to learn a skilled trade.
Demand for qualified skilled tradespeople in Ontario is higher than ever. Rapid population growth and advancements in technology and infrastructure development have fueled this demand, as has the pandemic — which saw a surge in household renovation projects.
Meeting this demand is challenging when skills are in short supply. At least one-third of Ontario’s 1.3 million people working in skilled-trades are 55 or older and nearing retirement, and there aren’t enough new apprentices to replace them.
Lack of interest among younger people is a significant barrier to new apprenticeships. “There’s a perception that white-collar jobs hold prestige and financial security,” says Julie Stuart-Niemiec, Manager, Apprenticeship, School of Trades, Niagara College.
My program provided co-op through which I was able to secure a job immediately after graduation.
Careers in skilled trades offer many advantages including competitive salaries, stable employment, the opportunity to earn while they learn with the added benefit of avoiding student debt. Skilled trades offer a direct pathway to employment. “Many graduates have multiple job offers waiting for them upon graduation,” says Stuart-Niemiec.
Welcoming and supporting diverse individuals in trade programs
To address the trade skills gap, Niagara College is expanding its state-of-the-art facilities at the Welland Campus as part of its Master Plan. “This will prepare more graduates for lucrative, in-demand careers in a broad range of fields, including electrical, automotive, machining, carpentry, welding, and hairstyling,” says Stuart-Niemiec.
Programming offered includes pre-apprenticeship programs and skills development projects to encourage underrepresented groups like women, indigenous peoples, racialized individuals, newcomers, and the disabled to enter various trades. “We provide a very welcoming environment and offer wraparound support to students and apprentices.” Says Stuart-Niemiec.
Finally, collaboration with industry partners — a key aspect of the Plan — ensures ample work integrated learning opportunities for students. Recent graduate Nishita Vekaria, an international student from Kenya, can attest to its value. “My program provided co-op through which I was able to secure a job immediately after graduation,” she says.
To apply to the School of Trades at Niagara College, please visit niagaracollege.ca/trades.