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Ontario Making It Easier to Enter Skilled Trades

May 2, 2024

Ontario Making It Easier to Enter Skilled Trades

New measures would make it easier for youth to get on a fast-track to well-paying careers

The Ontario government is introducing new policy and legislative measures to attract more young people to the skilled trades, including adding a new apprenticeship pathway and an online job matching platform. These initiatives are designed to promote the skilled trades to youth and workers and help set them on a path to rewarding, well-paying careers as electricians, plumbers, carpenters and other skilled trades.

“We’re helping to tackle the labour shortage by allowing motivated, entrepreneurial students to get on a fast-track to a career in the skilled trades,” said David Piccini, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “To get there, we’re opening pathways into the skilled trades today for the workers of tomorrow by making it easier for Ontarians to find apprenticeship opportunities through a new online job-matching portal, and reducing barriers for more workers to get a second chance at a better job with a bigger paycheque.”

As the demand for skilled workers in the construction and manufacturing sector is set to grow significantly over the next decade, the government is taking action to ensure the province has the tradespeople needed to build Ontario.

Building on the successful Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), Ontario is creating a new stream, called Focused Apprenticeship Skills Training (FAST), that will allow students in Grades 11 and 12 to participate in more apprenticeship learning through additional co-operative education credits while completing high school. Graduates would receive a new seal on their Ontario Secondary School Diploma to signify their successful completion of the program and recognize them for their dedication to learning in the skilled trades.

“We are going back to basics in this province by restricting cell phones and social media, and banning vaping in Ontario schools to ensure students focus on learning and build skills that lead them into good-paying jobs,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “We are proud to announce the new Focused Apprenticeship Skills Training program that will now allow students to take up to 80 per cent of their senior courses in co-op education. This will accelerate entrance into the skilled trades, supported by the mandatory requirement for all students to take at least one Technological Education course starting this September.”

Ontario would also make it easier to find apprenticeship opportunities by launching a new online job-matching portal for potential apprentices, journeypersons and employers to network and share opportunities. Currently, Ontario does not have a dedicated provincial system to match potential apprentices with hiring employers or sponsors. A government-housed platform, developed in partnership with the private sector, would help streamline the process for potential apprentices to find interested sponsors, register and begin their training.

Additionally, Ontario is proposing legislative measures to reduce barriers to apprenticeship training for workers who have prior professional experience, but cannot meet certain academic entry requirements to register as an apprentice. This policy would create alternative pathways for people interested in the skilled trades as a second career if they meet alternative criteria that may include minimum years out of high school and history of prior work experiences. The proposed change sets the stage for the ministry to develop these alterative criteria which would be set out by future regulations under the Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades Act, 2021.

These changes are part of a larger package that, if passed, would protect the health and safety of workers and frontline heroes, impose tougher penalties on exploitative bad actors and make it easier for more people to start a career in the trades. By continuing to put workers first, the government is building a brighter future for all Ontarians and ensuring the province remains the best place to live, work and raise a family.

Quick Facts

  • 1.3 million people are working in skilled trades-related occupations in Ontario.
  • At least one in three workers in Ontario with an apprenticeship certificate as their highest credential is nearing retirement.
  • Through Ontario’s Skilled Trades Strategy, Ontario has invested over $1.5 billion in the skilled trades since 2020. This includes investments through Ontario’s Skills Development Fund (SDF) that support training programs in the trades, which have aimed to help more than half a million Ontarians.
  • This year, Ontario is supporting 68 new pre-apprenticeship programs serving over 1,700 participants in 2024-2025. These projects are free for participants and combine classroom training with on-the-job learning.
  • The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) now has more than 72 recruiters across 800 schools to help students learn about the skilled trades at a younger age.
  • Starting with students entering Grade 9 in September 2024, all students will be required to earn a Grade 9 or 10 Technological Education credit as part of their Ontario Secondary School Diploma, to help them consider a future career in the skilled workforce, including the skilled trades.

Quotes

“Making it easier for Ontario students and adults to find apprenticeship opportunities and creating more mentorship opportunities for women is welcome news for Brampton. We are a city with a talented workforce focused on building our community and positioning our city for success. Connecting our workers, and those across the province, with better career prospects helps us achieve the common goal of securing a better future for all.”

– Patrick Brown
Mayor of Brampton

“I am happy about our government’s commitment to creating more pathways to the skilled trades. The Focused Apprenticeship Skills Training program will allow high school students to start full-time apprenticeship learning while pursuing their high school diploma. This is an important step to destigmatizing the trades and creating viable pathways to good careers, this is essential as we work towards significant goals like building 1.5 million new homes over the next decade.”

– Patrice Barnes
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development

“Unlocking pathways to the skilled trades means unlocking the future of our province. The targeted supports announced today will break down barriers and pave the way for more people to discover rewarding and in-demand careers in Ontario’s more than 140 skilled trades. Skilled Trades Ontario looks forward to our continued partnership with the Ministry to ensure Ontarians have the tools they need to build a thriving future.”

– Melissa Young
CEO and Registrar of Skilled Trades Ontario

“We commend the combined efforts of the Ministries in enhancing pathways into the skilled trades. At Skills Council of Canada, and through many partnerships, including with Peel District School Board and Judith Nyman Secondary School, we are actively engaged in initiatives that complement these efforts. Together, we focus on breaking down barriers and fostering innovation through strategic collaborations and this united approach ensures that we are not only aligned with the Ministries’ goals but also actively contributing to a future where every individual has the opportunity to excel in their chosen careers. We sincerely appreciate Minister Piccini and Minister Lecce for their steadfast support and leadership in building a prosperous future for our province.”

– Kate O’Neil
Vice President of Partnerships for Skills Council of Canada

“Skills Ontario is pleased to support initiatives that encourage more youth to explore skilled trades and better engage with more impactful co-op and experiential educational opportunities. Apprenticeships are excellent educational and career paths that more youth should explore. Ontario needs more skilled workers to build the economy of the future, and this is another important step to support this. Strengthening OYAP will benefit thousands of Ontario’s students!”

– Ian Howcroft
CEO, Skills Ontario

“Empowering women isn’t just about breaking barriers; it’s about forging pathways. With initiatives like the Focused Apprenticeship Skills Training (FAST) program and the launch of our online job-matching portal, we’re not just opening doors; we’re building bridges to success. By creating more mentorship opportunities for women, we’re ensuring that every aspiring tradeswoman has the support and guidance they need to thrive. Together, we’re not just shaping careers; we’re shaping a future where everyone has the chance to reach their fullest potential.”

– Charmaine Williams
Associate Minister and MPP for Brampton Centre

“The change proposed under the leadership of Minister Piccini will unlock an untapped talent pool in Ontario. It removes the barriers that new Canadians face in providing proof of their high school diploma, and will allow them to access training to enhance their skills and earn a bigger paycheque.”

– Mark Fullerton
Scaling Education

“Local 787 thanks Premier Ford and Minister Piccini for listening to industry on how to enable better exposure for students to skilled trades. Through this accelerated stream, mature students will be able to participate in apprenticeships and study at the same time. This prudent approach will help put youth in a better position to enter trades while completing their high school requirements.”

– Andrew Tarr
Business Manager, United Association Local 787, HVACR Workers of Ontario

“At a time when there’s growing demand for skilled trades labour, I applaud this government for updating the curriculum to prioritize STEM learning and back-to-basics reading, writing and math skills, and making it easier for young people to start rewarding careers in the skilled trades. By adding an accelerated stream to OYAP, as well and making it mandatory for students to take a Grade 9 or Grade 10 Technological Education course as a condition of graduating high school, Ontario is taking action to address the skilled labour shortage and preparing our young people for rewarding careers in the skilled trades.”

– Joanne Bin
Executive Director, BOLT Charitable Foundation

“These changes allow for additional exposure to opportunities and are another step towards breaking down the barriers and stigmas around the skilled trades. These initiatives – ensuring hands-on learning, as well as reducing obstacles to enter the workforce – demonstrate a strong effort from the Government of Ontario to better support both our future workforce and the Canadian economy.”

– Susan Crowley
Executive Director, CWB Welding Foundation

“The Ontario Masonry Training Centre and its affiliated employers, the Ontario Masonry Contractors’ Association, applaud today’s announcement from the Government of Ontario as it creates a stronger connection between the education system and apprenticeship training. By allowing students to stay in the education system and get their high school diploma, while at the same time fast tracking their progress in the skilled trades, the Focused Apprenticeship Skills Training Program will be a major boost to addressing the need for new entrants into the construction workforce. With the skills they learn while in high school, and a job matching portal, these students will find it easier to enter the trades and they will have a bright future to look forward to as skilled trade professionals.”

– Sandra Skivsky
Director of Marketing & Business Development, Canada Masonry Centre

“Today’s announcement from the Province of Ontario strongly reinforces its commitment to developing local talent in the skilled trades, crucial for meeting the needs of our expanding province. The Masonry Council of Ontario endorses these new initiatives, especially the innovative pathways designed for high school students to embark on careers in the trades. By seamlessly integrating education with apprenticeship opportunities, ensures that students looking for a rewarding career in the trades are able to access hands-on training and practical experience earlier on in their educational journey.”

– Canada Masonry Centre

Source

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