Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Amid a shortage of skilled trades workers, Ontario doubles career fairs to attract more young people

The Ontario government is expanding its skilled trades career fairs to more cities to boost its workforce. The province says it will need over 100,000 new skilled trades workers this decade making it crucial for more young people to have the opportunity to unlock their potential in these fields.

The new cities with Level Up! career fairs this year are Hamilton, Windsor, Sault Ste. Marie, Oshawa and Dryden.

“Last year’s career fairs were a phenomenal success, giving thousands of students and their families exposure to the many career opportunities in the skilled trades,” said Premier Doug Ford. “As we make historic investments to build roads, transit, hospitals, schools and other critical infrastructure, these expanded fairs will help us attract more young people into the trades and develop the skilled workforce our growing province needs.”

Level Up! is a series of dynamic, multi-day career fairs highlighting the 144 skilled trades, from electricians to boilermakers. Over 25,000 students in grades 7 to 12, as well as parents and jobseekers, will have the opportunity to learn about these trades through interactive exhibitions and hands-on activities while hearing directly from tradespeople and local employers.

The first fair kicks off September 19 and 20 in Thunder Bay and will continue in communities across the province.

“For far too long, parents and students have been told the only way to succeed in life is by going to university – this is simply not true,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “There are lucrative and purpose-driven careers waiting in the skilled trades where you can help build our province.”

The Level Up! skilled trades career fairs are open to all students, including First Nations schools. Grade 7 to 12 students interested in attending the career fairs are encouraged to contact their school board’s Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) recruiter, a teacher or school guidance counsellor to register. Last year, 12,800 students, parents, friends, and teachers visited the fairs.

Career fairs are taking place in 10 communities between September 19 and November 29, 2023, the schedule is below:

  • Thunder Bay – September 19 & 20
  • Sault Ste Marie – September 27 & 28
  • Sudbury – October 3 & 4
  • Dryden – October 17
  • Hamilton – October 17 & 18
  • Windsor – October 25 & 26
  • London – November 1 & 2
  • Mississauga – November 15 & 16
  • Oshawa – November 21 & 22
  • Ottawa – November 28 & 29

“In an ever-changing global economy, we are seizing the opportunity to inspire students with hands-on learning in the skilled trades and increasing pathways to apprenticeship that better connect students to good-paying jobs,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce. “Our priority is to keep students in stable and normal classrooms, benefiting from a focus on strengthening foundational skills on reading, writing, math. This is supported by expanded career fairs and a new mandatory requirement that all students take at least one technological education course starting next year, so that students graduate into fulfilling careers of the jobs of tomorrow.”

Last month, the province announced apprenticeship registration increased by 24 per cent in the last year – from 21,971 to 27,319 – as more people joined the skilled trades. The increase comes amidst a big push from the government to attract more people to these professions.

According to provincial data 1.2 million people were working in skilled trades-related occupations in Ontario in 2022. However, around one in three workers with an apprenticeship or trade certificate is aged 55 or over and nearing retirement. Meanwhile nearly 300,000 jobs are going unfilled across the province, while one in five new job openings in Ontario will be in the skilled trades by 2025.

Most of Ontario’s skilled trades initiatives are supported through labour market transfer agreements between the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.

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