Ontario doubling career fairs
By Adam FreillConstruction Labour Skills Development
Province looks to target over 25,000 students in grades 7 to 12 as it works to help more young people enter skilled trades.
The Ontario government is expanding its skilled trades career fairs program, setting a goal of reaching twice as many students as last year with the addition of more cities and more exhibitors. Now in its second year, the Level Up! program is a series of dynamic, multi-day career fairs highlighting the province’s 144 skilled trades, from electricians to boilermakers.
The aim, says the province, is to bridge a labour gap that will see Ontario in need of over 100,000 new skilled trades workers this decade. New cities with career fairs this year are Hamilton, Windsor, Sault Ste. Marie, Oshawa and Dryden.
“Choosing the right career path can be a challenge for young people, and we’re here to help,” stated Melissa Young, CEO and registrar with Skilled Trades Ontario. “The Level Up! career fairs are a chance to try your hand at different trades, explore your passion, and learn about the pathways into a rewarding career. Skilled Trades Ontario is thrilled to be partnering with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development on this important initiative.”
In 2022, almost 13,000 students, parents, friends and teachers visited the fairs.
“Last year’s career fairs were a phenomenal success, giving thousands of students and their families exposure to the many career opportunities in the skilled trades,” said Premier Doug Ford. “As we make historic investments to build roads, transit, hospitals, schools and other critical infrastructure, these expanded fairs will help us attract more young people into the trades and develop the skilled workforce our growing province needs.”
The fairs aim to reach more than 25,000 students in grades 7 to 12, as well as parents and jobseekers, giving them the opportunity to learn about these trades through interactive exhibitions and hands-on activities while hearing directly from tradespeople and local employers.
The first fair kicks off September 19 and 20 in Thunder Bay and will continue with fairs in communities across the province.
“For far too long, parents and students have been told the only way to succeed in life is by going to university – this is simply not true,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “There are lucrative and purpose-driven careers waiting in the skilled trades where you can help build our province. Under Premier Doug Ford, we are giving more students the opportunity to learn about the life-changing careers in skilled trades that come with defined pensions and benefits.”
“In an ever-changing global economy, we are seizing the opportunity to inspire students with hands-on learning in the skilled trades and increasing pathways to apprenticeship that better connect students to good-paying jobs,” added Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.
In addition to the career fairs, the province has also earmarked $24 million for the Apprenticeship Capital Grant program in 2023-24, which will help 66 training institutions across Ontario upgrade training equipment and existing facilities that support hands-on learning for students and apprentices.
Career fairs are taking place in the following 10 communities:
- Thunder Bay – September 19 – 20
- Sault Ste Marie – September 27 – 28
- Sudbury – October 3 – 4
- Dryden – October 17
- Hamilton – October 17 – 18
- Windsor – October 25 – 26
- London – November 1 – 2
- Mississauga – November 15 – 16
- Oshawa – November 21 – 22
- Ottawa – November 28 – 29
Grade 7 to 12 students interested in attending the career fairs are encouraged to contact their school board’s Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) recruiter, a teacher or school guidance counsellor to register.