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Multi-trade school needed

Dear editor,

After the local Chamber of Commerce's AGM, Mayor Caul, Larry Fontana and I met with our MPP, who is also the Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Greg Rickford and presented the following:

The Ontario Public School Board Association, in its 2019 submission to Minister Rickford's government indicated that:

  • By 2025, there will be a skilled labour shortage of 1.2 million positions.
  • By 2025, 40 percent of all occupations will be in skilled trades.
  • Forty-eight percent of the current work force will be eligible to retire in the next five years.
  • Skilled trades are career pathways that need “. . . to be part of a comprehensive and intentional career exploration strategy from Kindergarten to Grade 12.”

The implementation of this K-12 strategy is essential to increase the supply of skilled labour.

However, to ensure success, this strategy should also include a post-secondary option that, like other colleges and universities, would offer programing developed by the province, completely on one site (campus), over a defined and finite length of time, and at a set cost (tuition). The students (apprentices) who successfully complete the required programs would be eligible to meet the expectations of their trade.

The Resolute Forest Products Fort Frances pulp and paper mill would be the ideal site to establish this multi-trade school.

The students enrolled in this multi-trade school would learn the skills of their trade under the supervision of qualified journeypersons while re-habilitating the kraft mill and paper machines.

When the re-habilitation is complete the facility would manufacture a marketable product(s), and the multi-trade school would be financially self-sustaining and able to meet the educational requirements of the skilled trades throughout the 21st century.

These opportunities exist now as there are potential buyers that wish tore-purpose this mill and go into production. This model of a multi-trade school, once embedded in their operations, would ensure the success of any one of these interested operators.

There are district stakeholders, such as the Seven Generations Education Institute and Confederation College that could add tremendous pedagogical value to this model, as well.

We believe the real value to the province, the district, the town, our students and our future is by maintaining the historic use of this facility.

David Kircher

Fort Frances, Ont.

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