Skilled Trades training opportunities

Published on September 25, 2020

The average age of a journeyman tradesperson in Ontario is now 47 years old.

By 2021, one in five new jobs in Ontario is expected to be in trades-related occupations. With an aging workforce, employers are looking for skilled tradespeople who can help build and maintain our province and provide essential services while earning excellent money.

That’s why the September 3rd announcement that Ontario is providing $37 million to help more than 15,000 people train for new jobs and upgrade their skills is such great news for workers of all ages.

Skilled Trades training opportunities are not limited to students just leaving high school: programs are available which students can begin years before graduation; and, adults who have worked for a while and decide they want to go back for re-training can also benefit from an array of programs. In most cases, training is free.

For example:

Dual credit programs allow students in secondary school to take college or apprenticeship courses that count towards their Ontario Secondary School Diploma and a postsecondary certificate, diploma, degree or a Certificate of Apprenticeship. Dual credit programs can help students move from high school to college and apprenticeship programs.

The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program is a school-to-work program that lets students explore and work in apprenticeships starting in Grade 11 or Grade 12 through co-operative education. Students can become registered apprentices and work towards becoming certified in a skilled trade, while completing their secondary school diplomas.

Cooperative education – known as a “Co-op program” - allows high school students to earn credits while completing a work placement in the community along with classroom learning or online learning activities. Co-op work placements are arranged for students by their high school and must follow Ministry of Education policy and guidelines. Students participating in co-op are assigned to a co-operative education teacher.

The Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) is a specialized program that allows students to gain credits toward their Ontario Secondary School Diploma and focus their learning on a specific economic sector at the same time.

Students and their families can begin planning for a career in the Skilled Trades as early as elementary school. To learn more about early planning, visit

Men or women who are no longer in high school or college, or who are thinking about changing careers can still become involved in the Skilled Trades.

Those interested in working in a trade but who don’t have the skills or experience to get a job as an apprentice, can apply for this Pre-Apprenticeship training. Individuals who apply may:

  • Have graduated from high school;
  • Have left before finishing high school;
  • be unemployed or underemployed (age and eligibility for Employment Insurance are not considered); and
  •  are Indigenous, newcomers to Canada, women, Francophone or youth-at-risk. 

Pre-Apprenticeship training is free and costs for textbooks, safety equipment and tools are also covered. The training goes for up to 52 weeks and starts at different times throughout the year.

Participants in these programs receive safety training for skilled trades; training to improve academic skills; and, basic level apprenticeship in-school training. Pre-apprenticeship training also includes a work placement for eight to 12 weeks.

If you want help finding and applying to an organization, contact Employment Ontario at