HAMILTON — The Ontario government is working for workers by investing an additional $90 million in the Skills Development Fund (SDF) to support innovative training projects that upskill workers and jobseekers, preparing them for meaningful careers in their communities. As part of a plan to build a stronger province, this third funding round, which opens September 29th, is open to anyone who is unemployed or underemployed, and will prioritize programs helping people with prior involvement in the criminal justice system, at-risk youth, people with disabilities, Indigenous people, Ukrainian newcomers, and others facing barriers to employment.
“Ontario is a place where hard work pays off and big dreams come true,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “As we continue to combat the largest labour shortage in a generation, there are tens of thousands of people who need a hand up, including those previously involved in the justice system who have paid their dues and just want to give back. I believe in second chances and that is why I am calling on Ontario’s employers to help us deliver programs that lift people up and give them the tools they need to earn bigger paycheques and lead purpose-driven lives.”
Over 370,000 jobs are going unfilled across the province, costing billions in lost productivity. To address this, the Skills Development Fund supports ground-breaking programs that connect jobseekers with the skills and training they need to find well-paying careers close to home. The previous two rounds of funding delivered 388 training projects, helping more than 393,000 people take the next step in their careers in in-demand industries.
Through the previous round of the Skills Development Fund, the government approved an investment of nearly $500,000 for the John Howard Society of Hamilton, Burlington and Area. Through an entirely new program, John Howard was able to connect over 40 previously incarcerated or justice-involved individuals with well-paying jobs in Hamilton’s booming manufacturing sector, solving the needs of local businesses as well.
“Thanks to support from the Skills Development Fund and the John Howard Society, I’ve found my dream job and am learning so much about the workplace and myself,” said Colleen Scanlan, John Howard Society’s WorkPath Employment Services program participant. “I’m now earning a great paycheque doing everything from ground maintenance to other little jobs. Through this program, I have found a fantastic employer, where my voice is heard.”
During the upcoming third funding round, the province will also prioritize applications for projects preparing workers for careers in in-demand sectors such as the skilled trades, healthcare, technology and manufacturing.
Today’s announcement brings Ontario’s total investment in the Skills Development Fund to over $560 million.