Ontario helps students kick-start careers in the trades

Photo By Skilled Trades Ontario

The Ontario government is investing more than $62.9 million in two of the province’s foundational skilled trades programs to help more than 18,000 young people explore and prepare for life-long careers in a growing industry. 

The record increase in funding will help train the 100,000 skilled workers needed to build transit, hospitals, and at least 1.5 million homes by 2031.

“We need more young people to know university isn’t the only path to success in life,” said David Piccini, Minister of Labor, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our government will continue to invest in expanding opportunities for students and young people so everyone in Ontario has a fair shot at a life-changing career.”

The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) is a specialized high school program that gives students who have completed Grade 10 the chance to explore the trades through cooperative education courses. 

OYAP Cabinet maker apprenticeship
A Cabinet maker:

  • Builds, repairs, finishes and installs residential and commercial cabinets, wooden furniture and architectural millwork using a variety of woods, laminates and other products
  • Reads drawings and specifications, and prepare layouts
  • Sets up and operates woodworking equipment, both power and computerized, to machine wood products and composite materials

The government is expanding OYAP with a $21.1 million investment to help more students across the province gain exposure to the skilled trades by accumulating hours toward an apprenticeship while completing their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. The province is also sending 72 OYAP recruiters into more than 800 secondary schools to compete directly with colleges and universities.

"Ontario's plan to go back to basics includes a renewed focus on hands-on learning that integrates learning with working in the skilled trades,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “This significant increase in pre-apprenticeships, the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program and the deployment of recruiters into 800 high schools across Ontario will help students jump-start their careers in the skilled trades and access good-paying jobs in communities small and large."

The government is also investing $41.8 million to launch roughly 100 pre-apprenticeship training projects around the province to help young people get first-hand experience working in trades that can pay six figures such as welding, electrical and arboriculture. Pre-apprenticeship training is free for participants while costs for textbooks, safety equipment and tools are all covered. Courses can last up to 52 weeks and include an 8–12-week paid work placement with a local employer.

This announcement was made at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 353 in Toronto. With a $1.3 million investment from the Skills Development Fund Training Stream, IBEW has launched a free project to prepare 48 people from underrepresented groups as electricians in the Greater Toronto Area. The program includes a free 15-week bootcamp on essential electrical skills and health and safety, along with a 10-week paid job placement with a local employer and a pathway to an apprenticeship.

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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).