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Innovative program will bring jobs and affordable housing to York-Simcoe

New training project will prepare up to 100 job seekers for a career in the construction sector, while providing affordable housing options in Georgina

A new construction training program is coming to York-Simcoe next year, and will not only create job opportunities in skilled trades, but also provide affordable housing options in Georgina. 

The government of Ontario is investing more than $4 million through SkillsAdvance Ontario to facilitate the new project, in collaboration with SkillsOntario and Georgina Trades Training Inc. (GTTI). 

The project will prepare up to 100 job seekers with the training and resources needed for a career in the construction industry, by providing them with a hands-on learning experience while building modular homes at a new training facility in Georgina. 

The new Skilled Trades Institute will be located at 1614 Metro Rd. on a three-acre campus.

"This project shows how our government is partnering with local communities to address economic challenges and help more people find work in the trades," said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, in a news release. "Many communities have been hit hard by the pandemic, and as we continue to reopen Ontario's economy, effective training initiatives will be an essential part of our efforts to get everyone back on the job.”

The project, which has been in the works for the past few years, hopes to attract more people to careers in the skilled trades and help with the province’s economic recovery plan from COVID-19. 

“Our government has been trying to encourage people to consider jobs in the skilled trades before the pandemic,” explained Caroline Mulroney, York-Simcoe MPP and Minister of Transportation and Francophone Affairs. “And now with the economic downturn as a result of the pandemic, this kind of a program that provides skills for people to start building careers in the skilled trades, it’s needed even more than it was before.”  

Mulroney emphasized that students will receive not only hands-on skills, but soft skills. 

“Students are going to get workplace communication training, and teamwork training, problem solving and professional skills that can set them up for life.” 

The project is one of 50 SkillsAdvance projects in the province, with five of them dedicated to the construction sector. 

“Through this program job seekers will get skills that they need, but also be building affordable housing,” said Mulroney. “And that is a new model that was of great interest to the Minister of Labour and I hope it’s the kind of model we can roll out across the province, because it addresses two of our priorities: creating opportunities for people to get jobs in the skilled trades and affordable housing.” 

The plan is to build four to six bungalows in 2021 and ramp up to 20 -24 per year after that. The houses will be available for purchase sometime in spring 2021. 

“We are already having discussions regarding purchasing with interested parties that are well acquainted with affordable housing,” noted Bil Trainor Vice-Chair for GTTI. 

Mulroney added that, as part of the province’s economic recovery plan, four new subway lines will be built, including one extending into York Region, which will require many skilled labourers. 

“Those are very large public infrastructure projects which we are going to need a lot of skilled trades,” she said.

In addition to the $4 million from the government, the Town of Georgina has invested $2.6 million to the project and is leasing the land that the housing units will be built on. 

"As a founding partner of GTTI, The Town looks forward to continuing this partnership with the development of the Skilled Trades Institute," said Margaret Quirk, Mayor of Georgina. "This is a great opportunity with far-reaching economic and social benefits in providing post-secondary opportunities closer to home for residents, addressing skilled trades shortages while creating affordable housing for those who need it."

"Acute shortages in the skilled trades have become a serious problem for Ontario's economy that requires bold, creative thinking to come up with solutions," said John De Faveri, Chair of GTTI. 

"Not only are we attracting and training post-secondary school graduates as well as multi-barrier candidates to consider a career in skilled trades, we are at the same time creating a unique model for municipalities that clearly speaks to affordable housing."

Mulroney was pleased to share the news with York-Simcoe on Friday. 

“I think it (the program) highlights local ingenuity and puts it into action,” noted Mulroney. “It’s a big investment and I’m just thrilled we were able to do this in York-Simcoe.” 

Over the next few months, GTTI will be hiring staff for the project and developing the training for the six month curriculum for the program set to begin in January 2021. Anyone can apply, and tuition is free.

Applications will be available starting in mid-September on the GTTI website at www.GTTI.ca.

Natasha Philpott

About the Author: Natasha Philpott

Natasha is BradfordToday's Community Editor. She graduated from the Media Studies program at The University of Guelph-Humber. She lives in Bradford with her husband, two boys and two cats
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