Ontario Government Offers Students Skilled Trades Support
Skilled trades are taking the country by storm, especially in Ontario. More than 256,000 new skilled trades apprentices are needed in the next five years to meet the country’s demand. The top in-demand skilled trades from last year to 2026 include cook, industrial electrician, industrial mechanic (millwright), painter/ decorator, and welder.
With that backdrop, the government of Ontario has announced a new program to meet this demand and ensure students are prepared for what the skilled trades have to offer. The Ministry of Education says students in grade 11 can transition into full-time, skilled trades apprenticeship programs. These programs will be in the construction, transportation, manufacturing and industrial, services and information, and digital technology industries. Once the student receives their Certificate of Apprenticeship, they can apply for their Ontario Secondary School Diploma and graduate. This method presents an opportunity to expedite young people into the trades and combat Canadian labour shortages.
Youth Skilled Trades Workers to Meet Demand
“To ensure all students can get ahead in this province, we are accelerating pathways from high school to apprenticeship learning and ultimately, a career in the skilled trades,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “Our government’s mission is to fill the skills gap by better connecting Ontario students to these good-paying jobs, helping many students who may not have graduated, now gain a credential that leads them to meaningful employment.”
After the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario’s labour market experienced a shock to the system that left the province with an unemployment rate of 13.6%. This especially impacted youth and service workers. In addition, 43% of working Canadians report that they will look for a new job in 2023. The skilled trades market gives Ontarians a hub of hope they very much need right now. “These changes provide students with exciting pathways to good-paying jobs and rewarding careers and support our government’s ongoing work to attract more young people into the skilled trades,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Whether it’s enhancing trades education in our schools, breaking down barriers for newcomers or upskilling workers, we’re leaving no stone unturned to train the skilled workforce that will build Ontario.”
The Ontario government will begin consultations this fall with employers, unions, education stakeholders, trainers, and student parents about potential methods that ensure an easier transition into the trades for these students. One approach they’ve laid out is to potentially lower the entry requirements for some of the 106 skilled trades in the province that require a grade 12-level education. Currently, there are 1.2 million skilled trades workers in Ontario and many are set to retire in the next few years. That leaves a gap that young Ontarians can fill to meet that growing demand.