September 10, 2015
By Mike Peeling
Brant MPP Dave Levac said he wanted to push towards taking action at the fourth roundtable discussion of skill trades Wednesday morning.
“We can’t continue with the ‘woe is us’ approach,” Levac said of the lack of skilled trades workers in Brantford and the County of Brant. “We have to address the problem. I want to push the envelope a bit and do something more.”
The consensus around the table seemed to be skilled trades jobs are available, but that the community doesn’t have enough people prepared for those positions.
Erin Monture of Grand River Employment and Training (GREAT) said they have had to upgrade job candidates math skills’ who have a Grade 12 education, but score at a Grade 6 level.
Monture said it seems these students need to get a well-rounded secondary school education, not just the applied credits they need.
While Tom Reid, representing the Ontario College of Trades, suggested the need for an organization to better prepare youth for skilled trades, Levac said he preferred to build partnerships amongst existing organizations.
Artists and artisans showcase their skills and work in open houses to bring in new faces, so why can’t the skilled trades? asked Levac.
The Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie has held similar events, but the group agreed more organizations need to collaborate to expand on such events.
“This is a powerful group sitting around this table,” Levac said. “If we’re going to be successful and break down the barriers, we need to work together.”
Levac said he hopes the group can identify a few key goals, break into smaller groups and work on plans to fulfill those goals.
The MPP said he started the roundtable discussions in response to Mohawk College’s departure from Brantford, but is glad to see it has grown beyond that topic to move towards addressing the bigger challenges behind skilled trades.
However, he said the group would be better served with a new committee chair and asked for a volunteer.
No one came forward, but Amy Kendall of Conestoga College agreed to be a co-chair. The group planned to approach another member to be co-chair who was no longer present.
Brantford city councillor John Utley volunteered to be a co-vice chair, one of two members who will likely take over as committee chairs after Kendall and her co-chair serve for a time.
Also represented were unions, Brantford-Brant Chamber of Commerce, Six Nations Polytechnic and Grand Valley Educational Society.