Skip to Content
View site list


Pre-Bid Projects

Pre-Bid Projects

Click here to see Canada’s most comprehensive listing of projects in conceptual and planning stages


Exposure and opportunity: New tech-ed high school course pondered and praised

Angela Gismondi
Exposure and opportunity: New tech-ed high school course pondered and praised

Stakeholders say requiring high school students to take at least one technological education credit in Grade 9 or 10 will provide greater exposure and opportunities in the skilled trades, but it doesn’t come without its share of challenges.

“It should prove to be a great vehicle for students — who would never normally even consider a tech related career — to be exposed to the many and varied career opportunities in the trades. This is long overdue,” Cristina Selva, executive director of the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades (CCAT), said in an email to the Daily Commercial News.

“Having said that, implementation will have its challenges. Adequate facilities in the high schools, or lack thereof, pose the first challenge.

“Shop facilities have long been shuttered and sacrificed by the schools in favour of supporting the strictly academic streams. Reopening them would require significant investments on the part of the Ontario government.”

On March 10, the province announced it is implementing the new requirement starting with students entering Grade 9 in September 2024. Some schools already offer tech-ed courses, the difference is that it will now be mandatory in order to graduate.

With the extremely tight labour market, recruiting qualified teachers from relevant industries will also be a challenge, Selva stated.

“In the past, existing teachers of academic subjects have been dropped into teaching tech courses for which they are not qualified,” she noted. “In order for this initiative to have the desired outcomes, teachers must be professionals from the trades. One possible way to mitigate these challenges is to further expand and support the highly effective partnerships that already exist between the school boards and union-based training centres like the CCAT.”

Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance chair Steven Crombie said this is the latest step in a series of announcements aimed at bolstering the trades.

“We’re going to be exposing students at a formative age when they are starting to really turn their heads towards their future career plans,” he said.

“This really couples well with the government’s announcement to allow apprenticeship registration opportunities in Grade 11 and 12.

“If you consider a student who may enter a shop class in Grade 10 as part of their compulsory credit requirements…they may find something that they really are passionate about and they really engage with. The following year they now have an opportunity through another Ministry of Education initiative to actually register as an apprentice. In the past you might take a shop class in Grade 9 but then you might go through Grade 10, 11 and 12 with very little exposure to skilled trades.”

On March 8, the Ontario government also announced it will allow students in Grade 11 to transition to a full-time, skilled trades apprenticeship program. Upon receiving their Certificate of Apprenticeship, they can apply for their Ontario Secondary School Diploma as mature students.

Crombie said this gives students a chance to get out in the field and on the tools.

The technological education curriculum includes construction, transportation, manufacturing, computer technology, hospitality and communication.

The government will begin consultations in fall 2023 with employers, unions, education stakeholders, trainers, parents and others to discuss how to make it easier for students to enter the trades including the potential of lowering entry requirements for some of the 106 skilled trades that currently require a Grade 12-level education.

“Our recommendation is going to be simply just providing the exposure to all the of trades available, which I think is going to be at the core of what these technical skill classes are going to look like,” said Crombie.

Elvy Moro, a Central STEP To Construction co-op teacher at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), said requiring students to take a tech course in Grade 9 and 10 has many benefits.

“It may lead to a career or it might just lead you to do-it-yourself projects at home, not being scared to do work and touch tools,” he said.

He created the STEP to Construction program 17 years ago.

“It takes applicants from across the TDSB, any student that would like to experience taking a co-op and then being placed with a builder or a general contractor on a construction site,” said Moro. “That student will spend one to two weeks with every trade on that site so that they can figure out what truly fits them. How does a student in Grade 11 or 12 know exactly what they’re going to do for the next 30 years unless they’ve had some kind of exposure? How do we get them exposed is the question.

“Now we’re saying to Grade 9s and 10s you need to try this and see if it fits you.”

Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela

Recent Comments

comments for this post are closed

You might also like