May 6, 2024
Ontario making it easier to enter skilled trades
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.