Ontario Making Additional Investment to Attract Young People to Skilled Trades Careers

Ontario Making Additional Investment to Attract Young People to Skilled Trades Careers

$90 million in new funding will increase financial supports and apprenticeships for youth

November 24, 2021

Labour, Training and Skills Development


WHITBY — Ontario is investing an additional $90 million over three years to further promote the skilled trades to young people. This investment responds to the Apprenticeship Youth Advisors report, released today, which includes several recommendations to help solve the shortage of skilled workers Ontario is currently facing. The funding will help attract more students to rewarding and lucrative careers in the trades and ensure employers have the workers they need to grow their businesses and drive our economy.

Details were shared by Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, at GP Bikes in Whitby.

“When you have a job in the skilled trades, you have a job for life,” said Minister McNaughton. “Ontario’s trades are the backbone of our economy. More young people need to know that a job in the trades opens doors to bigger paycheques, with a pension and benefits. The trades can be their ticket to building a better life, strong family, and a stronger community for us all.”

As part of today’s announcement, the government is also investing an additional $2.9 million, for a total of $20 million annually, to expand the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and provide more opportunities for students. The OYAP now has 63 recruiters across more than 800 schools so that students can learn about the skilled trades at a younger age.

“Our government is equipping students with the job and life skills that will help them gain access to meaningful and well-paid employment,” said Minister Lecce. “We have introduced a new math curriculum that focuses on financial literacy, coding, and entrepreneurship, while expanding the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program so that young people have a direct pipeline to good jobs in the skilled trades.”

By 2025, it is estimated that as many as one in five jobs in Ontario will be in the skilled trades, but the average age of people entering the trades is 29. At the same time, a third of tradespeople are nearing retirement, meaning the province is projected to face a shortfall of 100,000 construction workers over the decade.

To encourage employers to take on more apprentices, the province’s investments in achievement incentives and pre-apprenticeship training will increase to over $77 million annually, starting in 2022-2023. The achievement incentive will also focus on hiring apprentices from underrepresented groups, including women, BIPOC people, newcomers, Francophones and people with disabilities. Pre-apprenticeship program participants can also receive living allowances for costs like rent and childcare.

These initiatives bring the government’s total investment in the province’s Skilled Trades Strategy to approximately $1.5 billion between 2020 and 2024. They build on the government’s ongoing efforts to attract, support and protect workers, making Ontario the top place in the world to work, live and raise a family.

Quick Facts

  • The Ministry of Education is planning professional learning opportunities for teachers, including guidance counsellors, so they can become more knowledgeable about the skilled trades. By promoting pathways that lead to the skilled trades and focusing on the skills needed by students to compete in the global economy, Ontario is helping to prepare students for success in the real-world.
  • In January 2022, the province’s new training authority, Skilled Trades Ontario, will become operational, helping more young people find suitable careers in the skilled trades and complete their training faster.
  • Ontario’s Apprenticeship Youth Advisors Jennifer Green, Adam Melnick, and Andrew Pariser were appointed in 2020.
  • The Advisors’ mandate was to engage with stakeholders and partners and advise the government on ways to break the stigma in the skilled trades, tackle barriers to participation from youth and underrepresented groups, and support greater apprenticeship completion rates.
  • As part of their consultations, they received over 5,600 responses to their online survey and held 90+ meetings with more than 400 participants, including youth, educators, employers and trade unions.
  • To further promote careers in the skilled trades, the province has released a new promotional video and advertising campaign, targeted to students with more information on the skilled trades. Starting this fall, Ontario will be investing $2 million to host annual Skilled Trades Career Fairs across the province.
  • Ontario will be accepting applications later this month for funding to develop and deliver pre-apprenticeship training projects.
  • Pre-apprenticeship training programs are publicly funded, last up to one year, and often combine classroom training with an 8-12-week work placement. To find out about programs in your area, contact Employment Ontario by phone, e-mail or live chat.
  • Several of these initiatives are supported through labour market transfer agreements between the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.
  • In June 2021, as part of the Province’s broader efforts to modernize learning in Ontario’s publicly funded schools, the Ontario government released a new Grade 9 math course. Intended to equip students with valuable learning opportunities that will support their success in the workforce, the course includes mandatory new learning on coding, data literacy, mathematical modelling and an emphasis on financial literacy.


“The Apprenticeship Youth Advisors were pleased to serve the ministry in conducting important in-depth consultations with stakeholders and partners in the skilled trades and apprenticeship system, along side with the public provincewide survey, to developing recommendations to support system enhancements. We are pleased to see the additional investments being made in response to the majority of our recommendations to better support youth in accessing training and supports, so that they can succeed in a skilled trades career!”

– Jennifer Green,
Apprenticeship Youth Advisor

“The skilled trades offer young people well-paying, satisfying jobs with great potential for growth, and we want youth and their families to be aware of these opportunities when considering their postsecondary options. Through this investment, the government is helping young Ontarians to more easily find pathways towards these worthwhile, in-demand careers.”

– Jill Dunlop
Minister of Colleges and Universities

“Skilled trades are the lifeblood of our communities and we know they were hard hit during the pandemic. It is critical to train the next generation of passionate young women and men in the 144 skilled trades programs available in Ontario. Investments in training our youth in the trades allow us to remain competitive and are vital to the economic development and recovery in communities like Whitby, and across the Region of Durham to prosper today, and in the future.”

– Lorne Coe,
MPP Whitby and Chief Government Whip

“Minister McNaughton has helped to build tremendous momentum on addressing the skills gap in Ontario. The announcement today on skills development and promotion in schools will make careers in the skilled trades more visible, particularly for those who have historically been under-represented in our industry. We applaud the Minister’s foresight with these announcements.”

– Patrick McManus,
Chair, Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance

“On behalf of the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), we commend the ongoing commitment of Minister Monte McNaughton to strengthening career building opportunities in the skilled trades. With a significant focus on empowering our future workforce, it is imperative that we work collaboratively to enhance education and exposure into the skilled trades at an early age and highlight the vast opportunities and benefits of this viable career path. These strategic investments in Ontario’s workforce will continue to advance innovative outreach, training, and mentorship programs to respond to growing labour demands and spur economic development throughout the province.”

– Joseph Mancinelli,
LiUNA International Vice President and Regional Manager of Central and Eastern Canada

“Today’s announcement demonstrates a strong commitment by the Ontario Government to strengthen the trades training system by placing added investment to bring more youth into this vital sector of the economy. Minister McNaughton has shown tremendous leadership in advancing trades training at the youth level – a cornerstone of the skilled trades.”

– Jim Hogarth,
President, Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario (PBCTCO)

“Minister McNaughton and this government are delivering on their promise to promote careers in the skilled trades and apprenticeship. This latest initiative smartly targets the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), and also incentives and supports employers who register young workers into apprenticeship opportunities. These investments are the right kind of programs to demonstrate to youth that a skilled trade is a stable, high earning vocation for life.”

– Ian DeWaard,
Provincial Director, Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC)

Related Topics

Business and Economy

Information about Ontario’s economy and how to do business here. Includes economic development opportunities, research funding, tax credits for business and the Ontario Budget. Learn more

Education and Training

Learn about Ontario’s early years, education and training systems. Includes information on child care, elementary schools, secondary schools, colleges, universities, skills training and financial aid. Learn more

Jobs and Employment

We’ve got the resource and supports to help connect job seekers with employers. Learn more