Ontario Helping More Young People Train for In-Demand Careers in Construction

Man fabricating a product out of steel.

New investments prioritizing skilled trades training for students, including underrepresented groups

TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing $3.5 million in province-wide training initiatives to help more students launch rewarding careers in the skilled trades. These projects, led by the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario (PBCTCO), will prepare nearly 2,000 young people for well-paying jobs in the construction industry, including a path to paid training and union-sponsored apprenticeships.

Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, announced this investment at the Finishing Trades Institute of Ontario, where he was joined by Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance, PBCTCO Business Manager Marc Arsenault and labour leaders from across Ontario. The PBCTCO brings together 12 leading construction unions with a province-wide membership of 150,000 workers.

“Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our government has a Plan to Build. Whether it’s through the launch of our skilled trades career fairs or innovative projects like this, we’re preparing the next generation of young people for six-figure salaries in in-demand industries,” said Minister McNaughton. “We need all hands on deck to deliver our ambitious infrastructure plans, which is why we’re bringing labour, government and business together to build a stronger Ontario that leaves no one behind.”

The PBCTCO’s Tomorrow’s Trade programs provide training to at-risk youth and allow students to explore lucrative careers in the construction trades, meet industry mentors and develop essential construction sector skills. The programs are available for students in London, Hamilton-Niagara Peninsula, Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor-Sarnia and Sudbury until March 2023.

The investment will also support PBCTCO programs aimed at recruiting people who have traditionally been underrepresented in the construction and skilled trades. Students interested in applying to PBCTO projects are encouraged to reach out to info@ontariobuildingtrades.com.

“The Fall Economic Statement provided good news to the construction trades sector,” said Marc Arsenault, Business Manager and Secretary-Treasurer of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario. “The new funding pledged towards the Skills Development Fund will help bring training and apprenticeship opportunities to those seeking to join the skilled trades in construction. We applaud Minister McNaughton’s and the Ontario government’s continued efforts to attract new entrants to safe and rewarding careers in Ontario’s construction industry.”

Ontario is also expanding eligibility of the Skills Development Fund, along with an additional $40 million investment, to support more training projects for high-school and postsecondary students. This change takes effect immediately and will help more young people transition from school to rewarding and purpose-driven careers in high-demand sectors and help deliver the province’s ambitious infrastructure plans, including building 1.5 million homes by 2031. Today’s announcement brings Ontario’s total investment in the Skills Development Fund to over $620 million.

“From attracting investments and good jobs, to training thousands of skilled trades workers and helping keep costs down for families, our government’s 2022 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review highlights the significant progress we have made on our Plan to Build,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “As we navigate these uncertain economic times, our government is enhancing its plan through new targeted measures that support families, workers, seniors and small businesses.”

Since the Skills Development Fund launched in February 2021, it has delivered 388 training projects, helping close to 400,000 workers and jobseekers take the next step in their careers in in-demand industries. Organizations planning training programs for students are encouraged to participate in the ongoing call for SDF project proposals by applying through Transfer Payment Ontario.

Quick Facts

  • Tomorrow’s Trades participants will receive $225 per week for training and transportation costs.
  • SDF Round 3 funding applications will be accepted until January 31, 2023. Interested organizations can apply through Transfer Payment Ontario. The province is preparing to launch a dedicated stream for larger capital projects later this year.
  • There are 350,000 jobs in Ontario going unfilled, while one in five job openings in Ontario is projected to be in the skilled trades by 2025.
  • Ontario launched Level Up! skilled trades career fairs for students this November to introduce students from grades 7 to 12 to 144 different skilled trades.
  • Ontario’s Skills Development Fund is supported through labour market transfer agreements between the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.


“Every student deserves to graduate with the skills they need to find a rewarding and well-paying career. Construction offers job security, high salaries, and the chance to build an exciting career. Programs like Tomorrow’s Trades are helping to ease the transition from the classroom to the workforce and will be critical to addressing the labour shortages we’re seeing in the construction sector.”

– Melissa Young
CEO/Registrar, Skilled Trades Ontario

“CLAC congratulates the Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development on continued investment in the trades through the Ontario Skills Development Fund. These historic commitments are helping organizations like CLAC deliver programs to address the construction skills gap, that create pathways to a career in the construction trades, and to support current and future apprentices on their learning journey. The acute staffing shortage in construction must be addressed if workers and contractors are to meet the infrastructure, housing and institutional needs of a growing and prosperous province, and we appreciate the support of the government in meeting these challenges.”

– Ian Dewaard
Provincial Director, Christian Labour Association of Canada

“The Skills Development Fund delivered by the Ford government has gone some distance in helping to fill the skills gap here in Ontario. The first year of funding helped Support Ontario Youth, through our Tools in the Trades Bootcamp deliver over 600 new Registered Training Agreements (RTA”s). The second year of funding is delivering similar results and we believe that the additional dollars announced in the Fall Economic Statement will bolster programs such as ours in the next year and ultimately go even further in solving the skilled trades gap!”

– Stephen Sell
Executive Director, Support Ontario Youth

“Spark Power is pleased that Minister McNaughton and Premier Ford have increased funding for SDF Round 3. This funding will help employers like Spark train the next generation of skilled trades workers and help address the labour shortage which is impacting the entire industry. We look forward to continuing our best-in-class training and working with under-represented communities to ensure everyone benefits from the rewarding careers in the skilled trades.”

– Richard Jackson
President and CEO, Spark Power

“Helmets to Hardhats applauds the increase of funding to The Skills Development Fund. The SDF has supported Helmets to Hardhats mission of referring Veterans, Reservists, Cadets, Military family members and Afghan interpreters into the skilled trades as a second career. Most recently, it has also allowed Helmets to Hardhats to expand our outreach to homeless or near homeless Veterans. The additional funding will continue to ensure that Veterans leaving the military are aware of the opportunities that await them in civilian life, while also ensuring they have the training and safety skills to join the unionized construction industry. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the Ontario government to refer Veterans to in-demand careers within the trades.”

– Joe Maloney
Founder and Executive Director of Helmets to Hardhats Canada

“Thanks to support from the SDF, BOLT was able to significantly expand its Job Shadowing program that helps youth participants discover the many different careers available in the construction industry, some they may not have known existed. Much of hiring in the skilled trades is still informal so a big benefit of the program is connecting job-ready youth directly to employers, most of which are facing growing labour shortages. That helps to reduce employer’s administrative burden and time spent on recruitment, while diversifying their labour force and promoting inclusive hiring. We are grateful to Minister McNaughton and the government of Ontario for their commitment to getting more young people into the skilled trades.”

– Raly Chakarova
Executive Director of the BOLT Foundation

“Power-Tek Group commends Minister McNaughton for increasing the amount of funding available in SDF Round 3. Our company has seen first-hand how this investment improves lives and gives people a rewarding career in the skilled trades. Our industry is facing an unprecedented shortage of workers and we are grateful that the Ford Government is investing in training to help address that issue.”

– Walter Pamic
Chief Executive Officer, Power-Tek Group of Companies

“Merit Ontario commends Minister McNaughton and Premier Ford for increasing the amount of funding available in the Skills Development Fund. This additional funding will better prepare the workforce for the jobs of the future and ensure employees have the training required for a rewarding and well-paying career.”

– Michael Gallardo
President and CEO, Merit

“The announcement by the Government of Ontario in the Fall Economic Statement to increase the funding for Round 3 of the Skills Development Fund to $130M will be transformative for our sector. In previous years, the SDF has allowed us to provide a hand-up approach for current and prospective employees, ensuring they can maintain and obtain valuable hands-on training. This support will, once again, position the hospitality sector as a viable option for workers who want meaningful, well-paying employment. We are thankful for the leadership of Premier Ford and Minister McNaughton and ongoing support for Labour and Skills Development programs in Ontario.”

– Hanif Harji
CEO, Scale Hospitality Group Inc.

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