In another bid to boost the number of people entering skilled trades, the province is planning to make technological education mandatory for high school students.
Students entering Grade 9 in September 2024 will be the first to experience the requirement. They will need to earn either a Grade 9 or Grade 10 credit in technological education in order to get their diploma.
During an announcement Friday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce claimed there would be multiple ways to fill that credit, ranging from construction technology to robotics to adolescent health care.
“We’re giving a wide variety of course options in [Grade] 9 or 10,” he said. “We’re doing that so that we’re not crowding out the electives and the prerequisites in Grade 11 and 12 which may be required for students to pursue higher learning.”
Lecce was asked about concerns about children losing one of their electives.
“There is still one art credit required,” he argued. “There is still one physical education [credit] required. This doesn’t crowd out those opportunities and, frankly, those pathways if young people want to pursue them for careers.”
Lecce noted the province would need to hire more teachers with technology credentials.
Officials have expressed a hope to attract more skilled tradespeople to Ontario, and particularly more young women.
“While almost 39 per cent of Ontario secondary school students were enrolled in a Technological Education course in 2020-21, nearly 63 per cent were male students,” said officials Friday. “With this graduation requirement, more young women will have an opportunity to explore the trades. This new requirement means a student may be introduced to programming learning in Grade 9, explore the apprenticeship pathway further and may ultimately decide to become an Aerospace Manufacturing Technician.”