Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Career > Work

Ontario’s New Youth Apprenticeship Program

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.

This could be one of Ontario’s most beneficial additions to a student’s high school career!

The Government of Ontario just recently announced the exciting news for the new Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP). At first glance, this may seem like another hassle for students, but this program is more beneficial than you may think.

Before we dive into all the facts about this new program, let’s first define what an apprenticeship is.

What is an apprenticeship Program?

To keep things simple, an apprenticeship program is a paid job which offers hands-on work experience alongside off-job training. Apprenticeship programs allow workers to gain experience in a skilled trade while incorporating their classroom knowledge into their training.

There can be some confusion between apprenticeship programs and internships, making it difficult for students to understand which program would benefit them the most. While some might feel that internships may provide them with more post-graduation job opportunities, there is a significantly higher chance that students will have jobs secured for them upon completion of their apprenticeships.

While apprenticeship programs are long-term in comparison to internships, the pros outweigh the cons. Along with a secured job post-completion of the program (plus a certificate that proves this completion), students combine their knowledge in the classroom with the workspace: “You get a combination of classroom and on-the-job training and you’re getting paid” says John Ladd, administrator at the Office of Apprenticeship, U.S. Department of Labor.

So we’ve concluded that interns get work experience, while apprentices gain more than that. What’s in it for Ontario students specifically?

Canada is currently facing a historic labour shortage. According to Lexology, “the record low unemployment rate of 2022 is projected to continue into 2023 as the Canadian labour market grapples with the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” In particular, the demand for workers in skilled trades and healthcare continues to far outstrip the available supply.

The Government of Ontario recently published a news article claiming, “In the construction sector alone, 72,000 new workers are needed by 2027 to fill open positions because of retirements and expected job growth. To help deliver the province’s infrastructure plans, including building 1.5 million homes by 2031, more people are needed in the skilled trades.”

With this in mind, the urgency of opening up an apprenticeship program in Ontario becomes apparent and proves beneficial to the economic growth and rebuilding of Ontario.

The Skilled Trade and the Red Seal

Starting in fall 2023, the government will begin consultations with employers, unions, education stakeholders, trainers, parents, and others about ways to make it even easier for young people to enter a career in the trades: “This includes the potential of lowering entry requirements for some of the 106 skilled trades that currently require a grade 12-level education.”

The government of Canada notes that “skilled trades are in high demand, rewarding, and essential to communities across Canada.” With more than 300 designated skilled trades across Canada, students are able to choose from a vast variety of employment options.

Looking at a national level, there are over 256,000 new apprentices needed over the next 5 years in Canada, and the top in-demand skilled trade jobs expected to take charge from 2022-2026 include chefs, industrial electricians, industrial mechanics, painters and decorators, and welders.

In Ontario alone, it’s expected that the most sought-out professions over the next five years will include chefs, heavy-duty equipment technicians, industrial electricians, painters and decorators, and welders.

For students that complete their apprenticeship programs and would like to consider working at a higher-level, they are eligible to take the Red Seal Exam.

The Red Seal Endorsement is designed for tradespersons that have passed the Red Seal exam. The Red Seal is recognized nationally as proof that a tradesperson has met the national standard in their trade.

Quick facts about the OYAP & Skilled Trade

  • The Ministry of Education is working to recognize up to 30 credits required to earn the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) for individuals with a Certificate of Apprenticeship or equivalent.
  • It takes between two to five years to complete an apprenticeship.
  • 1.2 million people are working in Ontario’s skilled trades. Many of them are set to retire over the coming years.
  • There are over 140 skilled trades in Ontario.
  • Recently, there were nearly 285,000 jobs in Ontario going unfilled, while about one in five job openings in Ontario are projected to be in the skilled trades by 2026.
  • Since 2020, Ontario has invested nearly $1 billion to make it easier to learn a trade, breaking the stigma, attracting youth, simplifying the system, and encouraging employer participation.

Ontario’s new program provides students with the opportunity to get paid, graduate without debt, have the right to high job security, feel rewarded, and gain transferable skills—all while earning a diploma.

With the current labour shortage in Canada, this apprenticeship program can only aid Canada’s economy, helping apprentices get to work quickly and “rebuild” Canada a little faster.

Emma Keyes

Queen's U '24

Emma is studying English Language and Literature at Queen's University. She enjoys the arts, and is a sucker for all things romantic.