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Georgian College offers new fast-track trades program to fill job gap

The need for skilled tradespeople is growing in Ontario, and Georgian College aims to help with a new fast-tracked program.

For the first time this year, the Barrie-based college offers a program at its Bracebridge campus that allows students to learn several trades in just eight months.

"Many of us across the province have found just how challenging it is right now to hire a plumber to fix a leaky bathroom fixture or a contractor to do a renovation. It's a real challenge," said James Fielding, the Georgian College Bracebridge campus manager.

Fielding said the techniques program helps aspiring tradespeople connect with their passion and determine the right trade for them.

The program includes training and tools to become a carpenter, plumber, electrician, cabinet maker, gas tech, heating and cooling mechanic, small engines mechanic, and CAD draft person.

"There's a lot of great paying careers in that list," said Fielding. "And that allows graduates to make informed decisions on their future career path."

One of the students taking the program is Timothy Reid.

He came to the program with years of experience working alongside his father, Wayne, who ran a Muskoka-area service carpenter and service company before his death on Father's Day in 2020.

"I want to carry on the torch for him," said Reid. "He taught me how to find the right customers that are appreciative of the work that you do and to also give back when you can."

Reid said he hopes to open his own business and carry on his family's deep roots in Muskoka.

The need for local tradespeople is growing after the pandemic drove many people to move to cottage country full time.

Simone Marsden runs BASK Insulation in Port Carling and said the workforce had been limited over the past three years, but demand has grown 30 per cent.

"For a short amount of time, our population skyrockets, and to meet that building demand, our local population is just not enough," said Marsden.

She believes programs like the one offered at Georgian College will help meet some of the demand and keep passionate tradespeople in the region.

Although to meet the growing demand in the province is a steep task. According to Skilled Trades Ontario, 70,000 new tradespeople are needed over the next six years.

"We have youth coming out of high schools and potentially coming into the trades now is a critical time," said Melissa Young, the CEO of Skilled Trades Ontario.

Young mentioned that marketing is ramping up to attract more young aspiring tradespeople, as well as looking outside of Canada for skilled labour to help meet the demand.

The Georgian College trades techniques students are expected to graduate in spring 2023, and the program is looking to expand in year two. Top Stories

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