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Beyond university: Ontario spending $62.9 million to show students the path to success in the skilled trades

January 3, 2024 | By Anthony Capkun

January 3, 2024 – Ontario is contributing over $62.9 million to two of the province’s skilled trades programs with the aim of helping more than 18,000 young people explore and prepare for becoming the workers needed “to build transit, hospitals and at least 1.5 million homes by 2031”.

(The announcement was made at IBEW Local 353 in Toronto. With a $1.3-million contribution from the Skills Development Fund Training Stream, IBEW launched a free project to prepare 48 people from underrepresented groups as electricians in the Greater Toronto Area.)

“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.

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.

“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. Pre-apprenticeship training is free for participants, and costs for textbooks, safety equipment, and tools are covered.

Courses can last up to 52 weeks and include an 8- to 12-week paid work placement with a local employer.

“Expanding foundational skills programs, such as OYAP, means that more young women will have the opportunity to enter the skilled trades and build rewarding careers,” said Charmaine Williams, Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity. “When women and girls pursue the skilled trades, they are preparing for exciting and in-demand jobs with good pay and benefits. And when women succeed, Ontario succeeds.”

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