The Ontario Government has announced $5 million to build and develop apprenticeship training programs in nearly three dozen fields, with automotive-related programs getting $250,000. The Ontario Government will make the contributions through the Apprenticeship Innovation Fund to improve classroom training for skilled workers, announced Dianne Cunningham, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. In the May 2001 budget, the Apprenticeship Innovation Fund was given an additional $10 million to extend its work to update apprenticeship classroom training and support the creation of new skilled trades training standards for another two years to 2005. The Fund is investing $25 million over five years. “A strong program of classroom training for apprentices is critical to ensuring Ontario has the skilled workers necessary to sustain economic growth and competitiveness,” Cunningham said. “This year’s investment through the Apprenticeship Innovation Fund strengthens the skills of our workers and economic growth.” Out of a total of $5 million, this year the Ontario government is awarding $1.7 million to projects to update classroom training standards for apprentices in 34 trades or occupations, such as precision metal fabrication, early childhood educator, and electrical utility line worker. It is of this $1.7 million that automotive programs at a number of learning institutions across the province were granted a total of just more than $250,000. The majority of these funds are to develop prior learning examinations. Prior learning exams are to be developed for alignment and brakes technician, automotive service technician, transmission technician. Curricula for automotive painters and autobody repairers are also to be developed. The remainder of the funds, some $3.3 million, are to be distributed to develop flexible, alternative methods for delivering apprenticeship classroom training including distance learning; create a comprehensive assessment or remedial system to help apprentices complete classroom training; encourage more partnerships between industry and apprenticeship training deliverers; foster greater integration of apprenticeship in-school programs with post-secondary courses and with the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program; develop and revise additional curriculum standards and prior learning examinations; and translate program materials into French. In addition, the provincial government is awarding funds to create training standards for seven new trades: welder, machine-tool builder/integrator, band saw technician, circular saw technician, construction craft worker, as well as pool and spa/hot tub installer, and service technician.