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Province announces $90M to promote skilled trades

Allocated over three years, funding aimed at alleviating skilled worker shortage

Ontario has announced new funding of $90 million over three years to attract more youth to the skilled trades.

It’s the province’s latest move to help shrink the growing gap in skilled tradespeople, which is being fuelled by a growing number of retirements combined with fewer youth entering the trades.

According to provincial estimates, by 2025, 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.

“When you have a job in the skilled trades, you have a job for life,” Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said in a Nov. 25 news release.

“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.”

The province said this newest announcement is a direct response to the Apprenticeship Youth Advisors report, which was commissioned by the province and released on Nov. 25.

It makes several recommendations on how to alleviate the skilled worker shortage, including providing financial support for non-apprenticeable skilled trades, establishing select secondary schools as regional skilled trades training Institutes, and making it easier for employers to participate in the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program.

The province said it would invest an additional $2.9 million, for a total of $20 million annually, to expand OYAP.

Starting in 2022-2023, funding for pre-apprenticeship training will increase to $77 million annually.

There will also be a concerted effort to hire 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.

Joseph Mancinelli, international vice-president and regional manager of central and eastern Canada at the Laborers' International Union of North America (LiUNA), applauded the news.

“With a significant focus on empowering our future workforce, it is imperative that we work collaboratively to enhance education and exposure into the skilled trades at an early age and highlight the vast opportunities and benefits of this viable career path,” Mancinelli said in the release.

“These strategic investments in Ontario’s workforce will continue to advance innovative outreach, training, and mentorship programs to respond to growing labour demands and spur economic development throughout the province."

In addition to today’s funding, the province said its new training authority, Skilled Trades Ontario, will become operational in January 2022. It’s being designed to help more young people find suitable careers in the skilled trades and complete their training faster.

Ontario will also be accepting applications later this month for funding to develop and deliver pre-apprenticeship training projects.