Ontario Creates Early Path to Skilled Trades

With Canada facing a skilled trades shortage that could balloon to 100,000 by the end of the decade, the Ontario government has green-lit a new plan that allows grade 11 students to transition to a full-time skilled trades apprenticeship program.

“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 during the announcement.

Upon receiving their Certificate of Apprenticeship — a process that can take two to five years depending on the program — students can then apply for their Ontario Secondary School Diploma and graduate.

“For far too long, parents and students have been told the only path to succeed in life is by going to university, which is simply not true,” said 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.”

Additionally, the government will 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.

Currently, approximately 1.2 million people work in Ontario’s skilled trades, many of which are set to retire over the coming years. About one in five job openings in Ontario are projected to be in the skilled trades by 2026.

In the construction sector alone, 72,000 new workers are needed by 2027, to fill open positions because of retirements and expected job growth.

“Creating new pathways is a major step toward addressing the skills shortage and providing students with an opportunity to engage in the trades early,” said Stephen Hamilton, Ontario director of public affairs for the Progressive Contractors Association. “The government’s straightforward approach to training (will) help young people better navigate what can be a complex and confusing system.”

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