On-Site Magazine

Ontario aims to attract young people to the skilled trades

$90 million in new funding announced to increase financial supports and apprenticeships for youth.

November 24, 2021   Adam Freill
Construction

Facing a projected shortfall of 100,000 construction workers over the next 10 years, the province of Ontario is stepping up its programs aimed at attracting the next generation of young people to the trades.

Today, the province announced an additional $90 million in funding over the next three years to further promote the skilled trades to students. In addition to providing pathways to rewarding and lucrative careers in the trades, the funding of programs will also help employers find the workers they need to grow their businesses and drive the economy.

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, and a third of tradespeople are nearing retirement.

To encourage employers to take on more apprentices, Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development, and Stephen Lecce, minister of education, outlined the province’s plans. These include increasing the investment in achievement incentives and pre-apprenticeship training to over $77 million annually.

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The province’s Achievement Incentive Program currently provides employers in the construction and other sectors with up to $4,000 in funding per apprentice as they reach key training milestones.

“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.”