Ontario Helping More Students Kick-Start Careers in the Trades

Province investing record amount in key programs to prepare young people for in-demand jobs

December 12, 2023

Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development


The Ontario government is investing over $62.9 million in two of the province’s foundational skilled trades programs to help more than 18,000 young people explore and prepare for life-long careers in a growing industry. The record increase in funding will help train the 100,000 skilled workers needed to build transit, hospitals and at least 1.5 million homes by 2031.

“We need more young people to know university isn’t the only path to success in life,” said David Piccini, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our government will continue to invest in expanding opportunities for students and young people so everyone in Ontario has a fair shot at a life-changing career.”

The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) is a specialized high school program that gives students who have completed Grade 10 the chance to explore the trades through cooperative education courses. The government is expanding OYAP with a $21.1 million investment to help more students across the province gain exposure to the skilled trades by accumulating hours toward an apprenticeship while completing their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. The province is also sending 72 OYAP recruiters into more than 800 secondary schools to compete directly with colleges and universities.

“Ontario’s plan to go back to basics includes a renewed focus on hands-on learning that integrates learning with working in the skilled trades,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “This significant increase in pre-apprenticeships, the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program and the deployment of recruiters into 800 high schools across Ontario will help students jump-start their careers in the skilled trades and access good-paying jobs in communities small and large.”

The government is also investing $41.8 million to launch roughly 100 pre-apprenticeship training projects around the province to help young people get first-hand experience working in trades that can pay six figures such as welding, electrical and arboriculture. Pre-apprenticeship training is free for participants while costs for textbooks, safety equipment and tools are all covered. Courses can last up to 52 weeks and include an 8–12-week paid work placement with a local employer.

This announcement was made at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 353 in Toronto. With a $1.3 million investment from the Skills Development Fund Training Stream, IBEW has launched a free project to prepare 48 people from underrepresented groups as electricians in the Greater Toronto Area. The program includes a free 15-week bootcamp on essential electrical skills and health and safety, along with a 10-week paid job placement with a local employer and a pathway to an apprenticeship.

Quick Facts

  • Apprenticeship registrations increased by 24 per cent in 2023, from 21,971 to 27,319.
  • In total, there were 91,634 apprentices active in Ontario as of April 3, 2023.
  • For more information on pre-apprenticeship training programs, contact Employment Ontario by phone, e-mail, or live chat.
  • There are 144 skilled trades in Ontario.
  • Ontario also offers Dual Credit and Specialist High Skills Major job skills programs that support secondary students to explore careers in the skilled trades.
  • SDF Training Stream and Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program are supported by labour market transfer agreements between the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.