A worker walks on a construction site in Hamilton, Ont., on November 14, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Lynett

The Ontario government is investing $37 million to help 15,000 residents receive “in-demand” skills training as the province’s economy looks to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement on Thursday in Hamilton, Ont. alongside Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton and the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario.

“As we work to build modern infrastructure across the province, we’re desperately in need of more electricians, welders, carpenters and construction workers to get the job done,” Ford said.

The multi-million dollar investment will support 86 projects in total and provide training for roles in technology, advanced manufacturing, truck driving, construction, and horticulture

The province says the programs will include internships and other hands-on learning experiences and that the training will be free in most cases.

“We need more skilled workers. And it’s a good problem to have, but it’s a problem we need to solve,” Ford added.

Some funding recipient highlights include $954,000 for the Ford Motor Company outpost in Oakville, Ont. to create as many as 244 co-op learning spots for college and university students looking to gain hands-on experience in manufacturing, vehicle connectivity and business operations

Another $440,000 will go to the Greenhouse Academy in Thorndale, Ont. to train secondary students in the basics of horticulture and the Roland Gossage Foundation will receive $500,000 for their Soldiers in Tech program to help up to 45 veterans get digital training for careers in web development and technology

As well, the premier made a point of underscoring the importance of women working in trades, shouting out a group of tradespeople who happened to be present for the announcement. 

“I’m a little biased when it comes to this, living in a household with five women, and I always tell my girls, girls just keep going, you can do anything a man can do, matter of fact, you can do it better,” Ford said.

With that, the government also says it is investing $450,000 to support women in the trades and for health and safety training through the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario.

Currently, women represent four per cent of all active apprentices in the industrial, motive power and construction trades combined, according to the Ontario government.

The province said it is in the process of finalizing agreements with other training providers and that a full list of funding recipients will be available later this month.