By Linda White
Special to the Toronto Sun
A new website designed to meet current and future demand for skilled tradespeople in Durham Region is successfully encouraging youth and those wanting to switch careers to "think outside the cubicle."
| Kevin McLellan
Project leader at tradeability.ca
"It's been a runaway success," project leader Kevin McLellan says of tradeability.ca, a website launched in October 2003. Each month, the bilingual website averages 4,600 "unique visitors" who in turn generate many more hits per visit.
Most visitors spend nearly 12 minutes surfing the site and an information guide available on the site is downloaded about 1,200 times a month. "That tells us there's an inherent need for information out there," McLellan says.
Translating that interest into training is crucial. There are more than 130 skilled trades in Ontario. According to employment forecasts, there will be a 100% turnover of skilled tradespeople in many of those trades within a few years.
"We want to raise awareness of opportunities in skilled trades," McLellan says. He points to the name of the project, chosen to reflect the ability and knowledge of tradespeople to tackle essential skills.
The Durham Region Local Training Board, Durham Region Labour Council, area school boards, Durham College and other community partners spearheaded the initiative.
It's funded by the federal and provincial governments.
Though the website addresses the need for skilled trades in Durham Region, it offers information helpful to anyone considering a career in any of the four skilled trades sectors: auto service, construction, service and manufacturing.
The website is designed to be a single point of access and source of information. "We felt there was a lack of consolidated information," McLellan says. "There were a lot of different sources but nothing specific to what's available in Durham."
Another goal of the project is to increase the number of employers involved in apprenticeship programs. It's also committed to developing local industry committees that will address the specific needs of their trades.
Finally, the project plans to post labour market information on the website. Project members are trying to develop a tool that will identify current and projected skilled trades shortages. That's been a challenge, because current labour market information lumps some Durham municipalities together with Toronto.
Already, the message appears to be getting out. Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities consultants responsible for registering apprentices are achieving and exceeding their expectations in Durham. As well, enrolment at Durham College's Skills Training Centre is up again this year, McLellan reports.
There have been other successes as well. For the first time, baking and early childhood educator apprenticeship training programs are being offered in Durham Region.
Forums in Durham
Tradeability.ca will continue to host forums throughout Durham. "Young people want to hear firsthand how someone got their apprenticeship, what the trade involves and what it's like on a daily basis,"McLellan says.
"We also bring in employers who tell them what they're looking for in an apprentice. They want people who are dedicated and who are committed to a career. Technology is having a huge impact on the trades and as a result, the trades are constantly evolving," McLellan says.
"It's about lifelong learning."
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