In response to the apprenticeship youth advisors’ recommendations, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD), with support from partner ministries, is taking action to enhance the Skilled Trades Strategy, as first announced in Budget 2021. The enhanced Strategy will:

  • break the stigma around careers in the trades and attract more young people to the skilled trades
  • simplify the system by cutting red tape and making it easier for people to enter the skilled trades
  • encourage employer participation in apprenticeships

Breaking the stigma

We are breaking the stigma of working in the skilled trades by educating students in Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) about working in this field, through increased awareness of, and exposure to:

  • technology
  • jobs in the skilled trades
  • apprenticeship pathways

We are increasing supports for postsecondary school educators and enhancing the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and pre-apprenticeship training program.

Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program

Ontario is 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, with a focus on girls and other underrepresented groups. OYAP recruiters, who coordinate the program in schools, will undertake consistent outreach with current and prospective sponsors. In addition, OYAP will develop a province-wide marketing strategy across all district school boards.

Currently, there are more than 72 OYAP recruiters across more than 800 schools so that students can learn about the skilled trades. The province has also initiated a pilot OYAP expansion in private schools.

Marketing and awareness

Launching annual marketing campaigns over the next two years will generate more knowledge and awareness of the skilled trades among young people and their families. The province will also be hosting annual, regional Skilled Trades Career Fairs, starting in Fall 2022, to support youth exposure to careers in the skilled trades.

The Ministry of Education will facilitate professional learning related to the skilled trades for educators, including guidance counsellors. The ministry has also introduced exploring careers in skilled trades into the curriculum, including in the mandatory Grade 10 Career Studies course.

Skilled Trades Bursary Program

The ministry has also introduced the Skilled Trades Bursary Program , which provides a $1,000 bursary to Grade 11 or 12 students who:

  • have financial and other barriers to completing their Ontario Secondary School Diploma
  • are enrolled in a cooperative education program
  • have plans to pursue the skilled trades

Pre-apprenticeship training program

The pre-apprenticeship training program will see an additional $1.89 million ($22.89 million annually starting in 2021–22) to provide training and placements to anyone in Ontario, including marginalized youth, women, and Indigenous people. The program is also being improved through performance-based, multi-year funding and an enhanced employer wage subsidy. Starting in 2022–23 the ministry is investing an additional $5.4 million that will provide funding to participants to better support them during their training by helping with basic living costs such as transportation, child care and other expenses.

Simplifying the system

We are simplifying the system by:

  • establishing Skilled Trades Ontario (STO), a simplified, one-window service delivery portal
  • cutting red tape for apprentices’ financial supports
  • improving customer service through a digital portal

Skilled Trades Ontario (STO)

STO will provide a simplified, one-window service delivery for key front-line functions like:

  • apprentice registration
  • examination administration
  • certificate issuance

STO will promote diversity and inclusion in relation to the skilled trades and apprenticeship. It will be empowered to work with industry stakeholders to identify barriers and strategies to promote opportunities more widely. STO will be empowered to engage in regular dialogue with:

  • training delivery agents
  • trade unions
  • employers

This could include identifying workforce needs and potential strategies to support a robust pipeline of talent.

STO will facilitate connections between apprentices, employers and labour with district school boards and promote youth engagement in the skilled trades and apprenticeship system.

The new one-window digital portal, launching in January 2022, will improve client services and enable them to view and carry out transactions online.

Cutting red tape for apprentices’ financial supports

The Apprentice Development Benefit and Grant for Apprentice Learning have been merged. Starting in 2022-23, all apprentices will apply to the Apprentice Development Benefit for financial support during their in-class training. The $16.5 million grant can provide apprentices attending full-time learning in trade schools with a basic living allowance and support for transportation costs. The average apprentice could expect to receive approximately $1,000 for an eight-week class or $4,200 if they do not qualify for Employment Insurance.

In partnership with the Ministry of Education, the ministry will develop targeted marketing to increase apprentices’ awareness of early years and child care services, financial supports and where to find these services in their local community.

Encouraging employer participation

We are encouraging employer participation by working together to build a more diverse and inclusive skilled trades workforce. This will include enhancements to the Achievement Incentive and the development of new training modules to support employers and workers through:

  • building inclusive workplaces
  • effective mentorship
  • quality on-the-job training

We will invest $2 million to develop training programs, including:

  • training modules on diversity for employers and journeypersons
  • a “train-the-trainer” model with the goal to build a pipeline of journeyperson mentors to train the next generation
  • post-apprenticeship upskilling into management or related professional careers

The Achievement Incentive currently provides all employers with $1,000 milestone payments for every level completed, including certification. The incentive will now be more than doubled. Starting in 2022-23 we are introducing a new $1,000 registration payment for youth and will double the existing milestone payments to $2,000 before an apprentice turns 25. We will provide an additional $1,000 registration and milestone payments for each apprentice from an underrepresented group, including people who self-identify as:

  • Indigenous
  • female
  • newcomers
  • Francophone
  • racialized
  • persons with a disability