By Mike Anderson
The future of the GTTI Skilled Trades Institute (STI), billed as a made in Georgina success story, is in doubt, after the province decided not to renew its funding.
STI, which was launched last year as a pilot project by Georgina Trades Training Inc. (GTTI), was hoping its $4 million in provincial funding would be renewed, allowing it to begin a third semester this January.
But the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills and Development choose not to renew its contract with GTTI, citing STI’s failure to meet its targets.
“The program has not met any of their agreed upon targets with the Ministry relating to the number of students completing the program, as well as those securing job placements,” said Harry Godfrey, a senior Ministry spokesperson, in an email statement to The Post.
“The organization was aware their funding was for a fixed term, and the renewal of funding would be contingent on agreed upon targets above. As a result of the program’s failure to meet their agreed upon targets, funding will not be renewed.”
The current contract with the Ministry expires in March 2022, and is not sufficient to fund another semester, according to STI Director Phil Adams.
Adams said STI has applied for additional funding under the Ministry’s Skills Development Fund, but, as of posting, no decision has been made.
In December, STI laid off 16 employees, including support and course instructors, and suspended its January intake of 120 students.
Some staff have been retained to help with the placement of students who graduated in 2021.
According to GTTI Director Carr Hatch, Georgina Trades Training Inc., located on 5207 Baseline Rd. in Sutton, is not affected by the Ministry’s decision, and will continue to provide training and skill development courses.
STI, suggested as a possible model for other jurisdictions trying address the shortage of skilled trades, offered free 26-week residential construction pre-apprentice programs in eight trades: carpentry, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, roofing, flooring, cabinetry, and drywall.
GTTI had secured a $2.6 million loan from the Town of Georgina to build a new 3-acre STI training campus at 1614 Metro Rd. in Willow Beach, where modular homes, designed as affordable housing, would be assembled, helping to fund the program.
However, according to a Town spokesperson, that funding agreement was never executed.
Still, Georgina Town Council did approve a $158,528 loan to GTTI in 2021, to cover the cost of engineering studies completed on the property.