The Ontario government is expanding its successful skilled trades career fairs, now in its second year, to even more cities with more exhibitors and twice as many participating students. Ontario will need over 100,000 new skilled trades workers this decade to help build the province, making it crucial for more young people to have the opportunity to unlock their potential in the trades. The new cities with 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 with fairs 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. Under Premier Doug Ford, we are giving more students the opportunity to learn about the life-changing careers in skilled trades that come with defined pensions and benefits.”
“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 Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “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.”
Additionally, Ontario is investing $24 million for 2023-24 through the Apprenticeship Capital Grant program, helping 66 training institutions across Ontario upgrade their training equipment and existing facilities that support hands-on learning for students and apprentices.
Last month, the government 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, playing a role in building Ontario. This follows more than $1 billion investment in the skilled trades over three years, along with the launch of Skilled Trades Ontario, as part of its strategy to attract more people into the trades.
- 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.
- 1.2 million people were working in skilled trades-related occupations in Ontario in 2022.
- Roughly one in three workers in Ontario with an apprenticeship or trade certificate is aged 55 or over and nearing retirement.
- The Level Up! skilled trades career fairs are open to all students, including First Nations schools. Last year, 12,800 students, parents, friends, and teachers visited the fairs.
- Career fairs are taking place in ten communities between September 19 and November 29, 2023:
- 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
- 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.
- Most of Ontario’s skilled trades initiatives are supported through labour market transfer agreements between the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.
“Choosing the right career path can be a challenge for young people, and we’re here to help. The Level Up! career fairs are a chance to try your hand at different trades, explore your passion, and learn about the pathways into a rewarding career. Skilled Trades Ontario is thrilled to be partnering with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development on this important initiative.”
– Melissa Young
CEO and Registrar, Skilled Trades Ontario
“The Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario appreciates the support of the Government of Ontario to expand the successful skilled trades career fairs to more cities across our province. We know that it is important to increase awareness and understanding of the diverse opportunities offered by the skilled trades to young Ontarians to grow, expand and diversify our workforce.”
– Marc Arsenault
Business Manager, PBCTCO
“As an active participant in two Level Up career fairs last year, Support Ontario Youth knows firsthand the vital role of this initiative under the leadership of Premier Doug Ford. These career fairs play a crucial role in jumpstarting careers and cultivating interest in the trades, which are integral to the future prosperity of our economy.”
– Melanie Winter
Executive Director, Support Ontario Youth
“Workers across the skilled trades are paramount to the strength, growth and function of Ontario! The Level Up career expos are a gateway to advancing education and exposure for youth and community to gain insight to the vast career opportunities in the skilled-trades. LiUNA looks forward to our ongoing participation and partnership to strengthen our skilled workforce and build a stronger future together!”
– Victoria Mancinelli
LiUNA Director Public Relations, Marketing, Strategic Partnerships
“Last year’s career fairs were a huge success in promoting Ontario’s skilled trades to students, educators, parents, and those who influence young Ontarians. This announcement will expand that opportunity to learn and ensure Ontario’s future is a skilled future.”
– Andrew Pariser
Vice President, RESCON
“No high school student should miss attending the Level Up! skilled trades career fair that’s being held in their area. Level Up! is a great way to experience the full array of skilled trades careers and to see if one is right for you.”
– Ian Cunningham
President, Council of Ontario Construction Associations
“The expansion of skilled trades career fairs in Ontario will provide greater awareness for the tremendous opportunities found within the trades. The Government commitment to promoting meaningful careers to our youth will be key to developing the province’s skilled workforce.”
– Jonathan White
International Representative – CSO, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers