As a college, Confederation can only do so much to get people into the trades and address a skills shortage in the region.
President Jim Madder said if he could he would double the number of tradespeople the college puts out.
And while that would help the college with enrollment, it would also mean more opportunity for young people to get high-skilled, high-paying jobs.
What's really needed is the industries help to convince people to enter the trades. Confederation College got some help Wednesday when it announced $750,000 in funding to boost its pre-apprenticeship program across Northwestern Ontario by about 100 students.
The money will also go towards more equipment, scholarships and job placements.
Madder said the program offers a chance for students to learn about five trades all while boosting numeracy and literacy skills.
"And at the same time attaching it to a trade," he said.
Hydro One president and CEO Carmine Marcello said the company's College Consortium has been working for nearly a decade to get people into the trades. As the workforce retires, Hydro One hasn't been exempt from finding new workers to replace it.
With development happening in First Nations communities throughout the North, Hydro One is also looking to get youth there trained and employed.
"Creating those opportunities is of critical importance to us," he said.
With more than $1 billion in energy projects heading to the region, MPP Bill Mauro (Lib., Thunder Bay-Atikokan) said Tuesday's announcement is good planning. Having students industry-ready when the work comes, all trained in Northwestern Ontario, is a good way to address the region's skills gap.
"We're going to have people ready and they're going to be local by and large," he said.