Ontario creating new stream for apprenticeships in skilled trades

Government also launching job-matching portal for potential apprentices, journeypersons and employers

Ontario creating new stream for apprenticeships in skilled trades

Ontario is making several policy changes to make it easier for Ontarians to start their professional careers in skilled trades, and to have second chances for another shot.

Building on the successful Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), Ontario is creating the Focused Apprenticeship Skills Training (FAST). Under the new apprenticeship stream, students in Grades 11 and 12 will be able to participate in more apprenticeship learning through additional cooperative education credits while completing high school.

Graduates would receive a new seal on their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

“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 (FAST) program that will now allow students to take up to 80% 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.”

The OYAP now has more than 72 recruiters across 800 schools, said the government.

The Ontario government increased apprenticeship registrations by 24% from 21,971 in 2022 to 27,319 in 2023.

This year, Ontario is supporting 68 new pre-apprenticeship programs serving over 1,700 participants in 2024-25. These projects are free for participants and combine classroom training with on-the-job learning.

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.

Alternative criteria for skilled trades

Ontario is also launching a new online job-matching portal for potential apprentices, journeypersons and employers to network and share opportunities.

The government-housed platform would help streamline the process for potential apprentices to find interested sponsors, register and begin their training.

Also, Ontario is proposing legislative measures to create alternative pathways for people interested in the skilled trades as a second career. This pathway will be available to those who will meet alternative criteria that may include minimum years out of high school and history of prior work experiences, said the government.

“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.”

Recently, New Brunswick rebranded its apprenticeship and occupational certification branch to promote skilled trades and apprenticeship in the province.

‘Rewarding and in-demand careers’ in skilled trades

Several stakeholders welcomed the new skilled trades supports Ontario just announced.

"Unlocking pathways to the skilled trades means unlocking the future of our province,” said Melissa Young, CEO and registrar of Skilled Trades Ontario. “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."

Strengthening OYAP will “benefit thousands of Ontario’s students,” said Ian Howcroft, CEO, Skills Ontario.

"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.”

The changes Ontario is making makes skilled trades more appealing to workers, said Susan Crowley, executive director, CWB Welding 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."

In March, Saskatchewan announced it is investing an additional $1 million to increase the capacity for the development of skilled trades in the province.

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