As labour shortages abound in the construction industry, the Government of Ontario announced on Wednesday that it will now allow grade 11 students to take part in a full-time skilled trades apprenticeship in exchange for high school credit.
Students who opt to do this will be able to apply for their Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) as mature students at the end of the apprenticeship, which can last anywhere from two to five years. According to the Province, The Ministry of Education is working to recognize up to 30 OSSD credits for individuals with a Certificate of Apprenticeship or equivalent.
“These changes provide students with exciting pathways to good-paying jobs and rewarding careers and support our government’s ongoing work to attract more young people into the skilled trades,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Whether it’s enhancing trades education in our schools, breaking down barriers for newcomers or upskilling workers, we’re leaving no stone unturned to train the skilled workforce that will build Ontario.”
The Provincial government has committed to the lofty goal of building 1.5M new homes in Ontario by 2031. But with the province seeing just 96,080 housing starts in 2022, it's clear the construction capacity is not yet there -- something the Ontario government hopes to close the gap on with the new apprenticeship allowances.
"In the construction sector alone, 72,000 new workers are needed by 2027 to fill open positions because of retirements and expected job growth," a provincial press release reads. "To help deliver the province’s infrastructure plans, including building 1.5M homes by 2031, more people are needed in the skilled trades."
The Ontario government, beginning in the fall, will consult employers, unions, education stakeholders, trainers, and parents about "ways to make it even easier for young people to enter a career in the trades."
"This includes potentially lowering entry requirements for some of the 106 skilled trades that currently require grade 12-level education," the release says.
"Our government’s mission is to fill the skills gap by better connecting Ontario students to these good-paying jobs, helping many students who may not have graduated, now gain a credential that leads them to meaningful employment," said Minister of Education Stephen Lecce.