New Georgian program in Owen Sound focused on skilled trades

A new pre-apprenticeship program at Owen Sound’s Georgian College is training more skilled trades workers to address the shortage in Grey and Bruce counties.

Twenty students are signed up for the 34-week introduction to five different trades including welding, electrician, millwright, carpentry and the primary trade, boilermaker. Those are the top trades required by Bruce Power for its Major Component Replacement Project. They are also in high demand in industries across the province.

The program also includes academic upgrading for apprenticeship-level math, communications and science and a strong focus on safety.

It offers a 12-week paid field placement in one trade at the Bruce Power site provided by various unions and Bruce Power suppliers.

Bruce Power Director of Construction Rob Hoare is thrilled this program is being offered locally.

“We are proud to partner with Georgian College on this initiative,” said Hoare. “Bruce Power’s upcoming refurbishment is the biggest infrastructure project in Canada and requires highly skilled, highly competent tradespeople to safely and successfully execute the work. A lot of those people are right here in our community, and it’s simply a matter of giving them the right tools and training for the job.”

The maximum intake of 20 participants has been filled and they will receive effective hands-on training and personalized program options.

This pre-apprenticeship program is part of an ongoing strategy by Georgian to increase trades training at the Owen Sound Campus. To date, five new apprenticeship programs have been approved: Educational Assistant, Electrician (both Industrial and Construction-Maintenance), Hairstyling, and Millwright. Georgian will launch the Educational Assistant and Electrician programs in 2019-2020 and Millwright in 2020-2021, with Hairstyling to follow.

“This new program, in particular, gives students the opportunity to test out a number of trades and pursue a career they’re passionate about,” said Varkaris. “It takes the guesswork out of finding a career and we expect it will diversify the local skilled trades workforce by offering a defined pathway to employment.”

Fred Varkaris, dean of the Owen Sound Campus, said increasing Georgian’s skilled trades offerings is important for several reasons.

“Increasing our apprenticeship programs helps more people acquire the expertise that’s essential to success in this new economy,” said Varkaris. “We know our local industries desperately need skilled people so it’s crucial to encourage more people to enter the skilled trades.”

He added that they received a large number of applications for the pre-apprenticeship program, which demonstrates a need in the community for this type of training.

This pre-apprenticeship program will start on April 29 and the work placement portion will end on December 20.