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Ontario invests in free boot camps for hands-on training in skilled trades

June 15, 2021  By Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development

The Ontario government is investing almost $4 million through Support Ontario Youth to help up to 2,100 young people access training and networking opportunities to support a number of future careers in the skilled trades, including horticulture technicians.

This funding will help deliver 70 one-day boot camps in communities that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic to provide youth with hands-on training, resume writing help and introductions to prospective employers in the industrial, construction, motive power and service sectors.

“There are many rewarding, well-paid opportunities in the skilled trades and there will be even more in the coming years as more tradespeople retire and jobs grow,” said Ontario Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton. “This great project will offer over two thousand young people an opportunity to get basic skills and form valuable connections in skilled trades that open doors to apprenticeships and meaningful careers. We want to inspire and prepare people for these exciting paths and ensure they succeed on their journey so employers can find the talent they need.”


From September 2021 to March, 2022, Support Youth Ontario will run “Tools in the Trades Boot Camps,” targeting three groups of participants:
• Grade 12 students who have an interest in the skilled trades
• People who lost their job during COVID-19
• People looking to start a new career in a growing sector or industry, with a special focus on Indigenous youth, racialized groups, women and newcomers.

“Our youth today will soon be standing where we are tomorrow. It is up to us to ensure they have access to as many opportunities as possible, so they may guide their own futures,” said MPP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington, Rick Nicholls. “Our government’s investment will allow many youths and vulnerable adults opportunities for basic training in the skilled jobs field. We know communities have been hit hard by COVID-19 and this is one of the many ways our government is meeting the predicted demand for skilled trades people when things eventually return back to normal.”

Youth from more than 25 communities across Ontario, including Ottawa, London, Hamilton, Chatham and Sault Ste. Marie will gain experience working with tools, writing resumes and interviewing. They will also have an opportunity to speak with businesses in the skilled trades sector. This will help them decide whether to enter the skilled trades and possibly find employers who can sponsor their apprenticeship. Each participant will get to keep a $250 basic set of tools to use during the training.

It is expected that 500 employers and industry associations and 300 education and training providers will be involved in the project.

To be considered for the boot camp, applicants must fill out a 17-question questionnaire through Support Ontario Youth’s website. A software program called “talent sorter” will determine their compatibility with their selected trade. Students and adults interested in attending a boot camp can apply on the Safe Ontario Youth website at

Data suggests that the need to replace retiring workers is greater for skilled trades workers than for other occupations. In 2016, nearly one in three journeypersons were aged 55 years or older.

The unemployment rate among youth (aged 15 to 24) in Ontario was nearly 21 per cent in May 2021, which was more than double the province’s unemployment rate (9.3 per cent). In May 2021, the unemployment rate among population groups designated as visible minorities was estimated at over 13 per cent compared to a 7.8 per cent rate for non-visible minorities and those that did not identify as Indigenous.

This initiative aligns with the province’s Skilled Trades Strategy, which supports economic development by breaking the stigma of the skilled trades, simplifying the apprenticeship system and encouraging businesses to hire more apprentices. It is part of Ontario’s $115 million Skills Development Fund, designed to support fresh ideas for training and skills development.

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