Ontario Expanding Dual Credit Programs
Ontario is expanding the popular Specialist High Skills Major and Dual Credit programs to help more high school students turn their passions into career opportunities.
For too long in Ontario, the skilled trades have had an “image” problem in the public education system. From traditional career counseling to apprenticeship restrictions, young people are often steered away from the trades as a career choice. In the past, some sought the security of steady, long-term employment in manufacturing, while others looked to “white collar” occupations. But Ontario’s economy is restructuring and with it, the labour market to support it.
The Conference Board of Canada, in their review of the Ontario skilled trades and apprenticeship system, estimated that the current system design is costing the province $24.3 billion in lost GDP and $3.7 billion in lost taxation revenue. Yet, for years we have focused on adjusting issues at the margins of the skills gap issue, rather than focusing on how to increase training and apprenticeship opportunities and using regional labour market information to identify where career opportunities exist for new entrants into the workforce.
The Dual Credit program helps students who face barriers in graduating high school to earn credits that count toward their high school diploma and a postsecondary certificate, college diploma, degree or apprenticeship certification. This school year, the program is expanding to include 600 more students across the province.
If Ontario’s economy is to continue to prosper, the image of a career in the skilled trades must evolve.