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Former Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy has been appointed by the province as a skilled trades special advisor to the Ontario government’s minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development.

Cassidy will assess the workforce needs in Ontario’s skilled trades, focusing on the manufacturing and automotive industries, including electric vehicles (EV). Ontario is expected to require over 500,000 more skilled trades workers over the next decade.

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“Ontario’s future is bright and skilled trades workers are a vital part of that future,” said Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development David Piccini.

“Our government has attracted $43 billion in investments in advanced manufacturing, including automakers and EVs.

“As these sectors grow, we need to prepare our skilled trades workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow and that begins with finding out where those jobs are and how we can build a talent pathway to fill them.”

Cassidy brings with him a wealth of experience in the manufacturing sector, particularly in the skilled trades, having started his automotive career as an apprentice electrician with Chrysler in 1993.

He was elected to the Canadian Auto Workers’ National Skilled Trades Council as a trustee in 2005 and served as chair of Unifor’s national trades council since it was founded in 2013. He has also served as the president of the Windsor/Essex County Skilled Trades Council.

Cassidy was a member of the CAW’s and then Unifor’s national executive boards since 2008 before retiring on May 10.

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“As our province continues to grow and attract new investments, we will need more skilled workers to support these growing industries,” Cassidy said.

“Not only will these workers help to build Ontario, but they will build a better future for themselves and their families. That is why I am thrilled to be working alongside Minister Piccini to ensure that Ontario’s workforce is ready to support the jobs of tomorrow.”

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Cassidy will be charged with assessing the workforce needs in Ontario’s skilled trades and his final report will provide recommendations on how to improve the skilled trades’ apprenticeship system based on research and consultations with stakeholders.

He will have a particular focus on the manufacturing and automotive industries as the more than $43 billion in new automotive investments announced for Ontario over the past three years makes the province the only sub-national jurisdiction in the world to be home to manufacturing plants of six major automakers.

In addition, Ontario will have three electric vehicle battery plants.

Currently, manufacturing makes up over 10 per cent of Ontario’s total employment while the construction industry will require 100,000 more workers over the next decade.

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