Ontario Government Prepares Young People for Skilled Trades Apprenticeships

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TORONTO – In response to historic labor shortages, the Ontario government has announced that it will allow grade 11 students to transition to a full-time, skilled trades apprenticeship program. This change means that more students will be able to enter the trades faster than ever before to help build Ontario. Upon receiving their Certificate of Apprenticeship, these young workers can apply for their Ontario Secondary School Diploma as mature students.

Premier Doug Ford said, “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.”

The construction sector alone requires 72,000 new workers by 2027 to fill open positions because of retirements and expected job growth. To help deliver the province’s infrastructure plans, including building 1.5 million homes by 2031, more people are needed in the skilled trades.

According to Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development, “When you have a career in the skilled trades, you have a career for life. Our government will continue to provide students with the tools they need to land well-paying and life-long careers.”

The government will also begin consultations in fall 2023 with employers, unions, education stakeholders, trainers, parents, and others about ways to make it even easier for young people to enter a career in the trades. This includes the potential of lowering entry requirements for some of the 106 skilled trades that currently require a grade 12-level education.

Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, said, “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. 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.”

The Ministry of Education is also working to recognize up to 30 credits required to earn the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) for individuals with a Certificate of Apprenticeship or equivalent. Currently, it takes between two to five years to complete an apprenticeship, and there are over 140 skilled trades in Ontario. With nearly 285,000 jobs in Ontario going unfilled recently, and about one in five job openings in Ontario projected to be in the skilled trades by 2026, this move by the Ontario government will help bridge the skills gap and provide opportunities for young people to enter the workforce with meaningful employment.

Ontario has invested nearly $1 billion since 2020 to make it easier to learn a trade, breaking the stigma, attracting youth, simplifying the system, and encouraging employer participation.

Quick Facts

  • The Ministry of Education is working to recognize up to 30 credits required to earn the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) for individuals with a Certificate of Apprenticeship or equivalent.
  • It takes between two to five years to complete an apprenticeship.
  • 1.2 million people are working in Ontario’s skilled trades. Many of them are set to retire over the coming years.
  • There are over 140 skilled trades in Ontario.
  • Recently, there were nearly 285,000 jobs in Ontario going unfilled, while about one in five job openings in Ontario are projected to be in the skilled trades by 2026.
  • Since 2020, Ontario has invested nearly $1 billion to make it easier to learn a trade, breaking the stigma, attracting youth, simplifying the system, and encouraging employer participation.