On the night Jill Dunlop secured the win to represent Simcoe North, the daughter of Garfield Dunlop vowed to advocate for the skilled trades, just as her father had done during his years in office.
In the ensuing months, the recently minted Progressive Conservative MPP has taken up the cause at Queen’s Park with a resolution that garnered unanimous support.
“There is a major and growing shortage of skilled employees to create and/or grow businesses and industries in Ontario,” Dunlop said. “As we execute our plan to make Ontario open for business, we need skilled labour to fill the jobs that a thriving economy will generate.”
According to Dunlop, 10 per cent of Ontario’s youth are pursuing careers in the skilled trades at a time when 20 per cent of workers in that same sector are over age 54 and will retire within the decade.
In presenting her resolution to reform and promote the skilled trades, Dunlop stressed a need for immediate action to fill the trades gap.
“Skilled labour jobs are good jobs and provide a meaningful, financially stable career path for many Ontarians, including young people, newcomers and individuals looking for a career change,” she added.
Part of the challenge in steering students into the skilled trades, Dunlop said, is overcoming the negative stigma associated with the sector, “whereby people believe that skilled trades are not a career to aspire or to be proud of.
“Our youth deserve to be presented with as many career options as possible, and the skilled trades should be at the top of that list,” she added.
Dunlop recommended the government take the lead in improving education, training and job creation in the skilled-trades sector.
She is encouraging collaboration between Ontario’s education ministry, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.
Dunlop suggested they work toward solutions to reduce the stigma surrounding the trades and address the shortage of skilled labour.
Family, staff, Simcoe North business owners, and area mayors were on hand to support Dunlop during her recent address at Queen’s Park.