Starting in 2024, Ontario students entering Grade 9 must complete a technical education credit in order to get their high school diploma.
Technical education credits cover everything from construction and transportation to manufacturing to computer technology to hospitality and communication.
The province said it's making the change as a way to expose younger students to technology and the skilled trades, in an effort to address Ontario's growing skilled trades shortage.
“By requiring students to take at least one technological education credit in high school, we are opening up doors and creating new pathways to good jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and the skilled trades,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a March 10 news release.
“All students will benefit from a greater emphasis on hands-on learning experiences and technical skills in the classroom so they can graduate with a competitive advantage in this country."
The province noted that more than 100,000 skilled trades jobs are unfilled in Ontario. That's why it's “critical” to attract more young people to those jobs.
More than 70 per cent of workers in skilled trades-related occupations are men, the province noted. By exposing Grade 9 students to the trades earlier, Ontario is hopeful of attracting more women to those jobs as well.
Earlier this week, the province announced a related initiative that enables Grade 11 students to transition to a trades apprenticeship program more quickly than previously.