Mobile unit will help students across the province learn about skilled trades and the opportunities they offer.
On April 29, Fix Network and Skills Ontario hosted a special Trades & Tech Truck Launch at the Fix Network Training Centre in Milton, Ont.
The busy event featured representatives from higher learning institutions, students, automotive industry professionals, members of provincial parliament and the media.
Attendees had an opportunity to tour the Skills Ontario Trades & Tech Truck, which will be visiting locations across the province over the course of the year, providing opportunities for students to learn about and sample some vital technical trades. Inside, the vehicle features 12 workstations, which cover a range of trades including virtual automotive painting, electrical and pneumatic servicing and repair, heavy equipment operation, welding, tool exploration and even hybrid planetary gearsets and fire alarm systems.
A major step
For more than 30 years, Skills Ontario has been actively encouraging young people to seriously consider a trade industry profession and the Trades & Tech Truck represents a major step in providing a hands-on, mobile learning opportunity for youth. Fix Network has long supported Skills Ontario and the ability to bring an interactive, traveling tech and trade experience like this provides benefits for both students and industry.
Speaking with Caitlin Vollum, Outreach & Engagement Coordinator for Skills Ontario, Autosphere learned that the truck will be visiting schools and colleges across Ontario starting in September. “This is going to be our hands-on unit that will really immerse students in the opportunities that exist within skilled trades,” Vollum explained, as she guided us through each workstation of the mobile education unit.
A special ribbon cutting ceremony took place and assembled for the event were Steve Leal, President & CEO of Fix Network World, the Honourable Parm Gill, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturism for the Government of Ontario and MPP for Milton, Mary Fuke, Program Manager, Canadian Welding Foundation, Ian Howcroft, CEO of Skills Ontario and Daryll O’Keefe, Regional Vice President, Ontario, for Fix Network.
During the announcement, Minister Gill stressed the importance of skilled trades and why it is important to highlight “the opportunities that exist [in these fields] especially given the current shortage of people needed in the skilled trades in our province and in our country.” Gill also discussed the provincial government’s strategy of working hard to ensure a bright future for the province, its investment in skilled trades (including $2 million earmarked for the Canadian Welding Bureau’s Welding Foundation) and support that’s available by reaching out to local members of parliament and government ministers.
Mary Fuke added this is an “exciting day, not only for skilled trades and the Skills Ontario Trades & Technology Truck, but also the announcement of funding for the Welding Education Program and the partnership with College Boreal and the Ontario Council of Technology for Education to be able to deliver this program.”
The program will offer the ability for educators to upgrade their technical proficiency to better serve students, as well as provide better awareness and information for those that are indirectly involved in these programs, including community partners and student guidance counsellors—essentially anyone that has influence on young people in the province.
“I would like to thank Minister Gill and the Ontario Government for continuing to recognize the need for developing and supporting these programs and the robust skilled trades that we need for moving forward into the future,” Fuke concluded.