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Monday, August 4, 2014

Huron Skill Gap

On the July 18th my Director and I attended the Huron Skills Gap Working Committee meeting in Goderich. The Four County Labour Market Planning Board Report: 'The First Step: Understanding the Skills Gap In Huron County'.
As in most areas Huron County is experiencing a shortage of skill trades people. The committee is working on ways to help fill the gap in the solo trades or in manufacturing/technology sector. In a way I was coming into this part way through and had a bit of catching up on things as this was not the first meeting. At this meeting we worked on fine tuning the Terms of Reference and Priorities and Actions of the committee. I will share the revised ones when received. Much was discussed on assessment, skills and aptitudes of (potential) employees. There was discussion about schools and 'All Pathways' and if  guidance counselors know &/or do enough to promote skill trades. Also how OYAP, CO-OP, SHSM & Dual Credits open doors & placement. Is there alignment between My Blueprint with other assessments tools such as Ontario Skills Passport and TOWES? Do employers do enough to recruit the right employee and provide the training necessary for the advancement of the employee? Where & when should training or retraining occur? Centre for Employment & Learning
This is just a brief report on the meeting and is from the perspective of a trustee.  Sometimes what you think and transfer to writing do not correlate, therefore ones needs to examine & re-examine what is before you. I believe having a trustee/director/other sit on a non-board committee is an exception but as mentioned to me, it is good community relationship.
Not knowing a lot about My Blueprint and some of the other assessment tools and the emphasis that is maybe being placed on them especially in secondary school, could we maybe be directing students into areas that the assessment 'thinks' they are suited for, ignoring their inner desire. Is there cultural stigma between white collar and blue collar jobs? Are individuals and companies unwilling to do apprenticeships afraid that the employee will jump ship once done their apprenticeship? Government grants/initiatives/incentives verses apprenticeship wages and licensed wages and non licensed wages, all come into play. Will there always be a draw to 'greener pasture'? Governments can do the talk and the walk but it is ultimately up to the employer and employee what the talk and walk accomplish.
There is another issue rising to the surface, the need of teachers for skilled trades. Gone are the days of many schools offering the full range tech courses, let alone on a regular rotation. With the loss of the courses comes to the loss of the qualified teacher. Many of these teachers were probably teaching with only a licensed trade teaching certificate, therefore that is all they could teach. Do you see people going to university, teacher's college and getting their trade license to become a teacher? This issue does warrant attention. 

Below are a view links/articles that are relevant to the conversation.

By 2020, more than 75% of the jobs that exist will require STEM related skills & knowledge.
                       (STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)

In Andrew Campbell's post '13 Sacred Cows in School' he talks about Seth Godins 'Stop Stealing Dreams'; "He asserts that modern schools “…were invented at precisely the same time we were perfecting mass production and interchangeable parts and then mass marketing. ” Modern schools were designed to produce compliant workers and eager consumers for our emerging industrial  economy."

Schools As Factories

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