WHITBY, Ontario — 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.