Skills Training in Ontario

Today’s labour market in Ontario is considerably different than from previous generations. Gone are the days where an employee performs one particular task, or even remains in the same career path throughout his or her working years. It is not surprising to learn that Ontarians will change careers at least once throughout their life.

It is also not surprising to learn that fewer jobs will be available as companies reorganize in order to keep their HR budget in line, hence what was once a growing career path may suddenly become non-existent over the next few decades due to technological advances and rising costs.

It is for this reason working Ontarians must realize not only how important it is to keep their employable skills up-to-date, but also to keep skills in line with the current job market demands to ensure they remain employed. Those who are currently out of work need to improve their skills so their chances of finding employment improve and they are taken off social assistance.

The Ontario government has many services available to both working and unemployed Ontarians who need to keep their skills relevant during these changing times. Let’s take a closer look at them.

The Canada-Ontario Job Grant program (COJG)

In conjunction with the federal government, the government of Ontario launched the COJG, where it will spend $192 million per year for the next six years to provide training to Canadian employees. The goal of this program is to ensure their work-skills are both current and relevant to labour demands.

Those employees eligible for this program will receive loan-free funding of 66% of training costs — such as university or product training course costs, textbooks, exams, and software resources — up to a maximum of $10,000. Any employees undergoing retraining as stipulated by their employer must complete their training within the year, and the training cannot exceed 12 months in length.

To be eligible for skills retraining through the COJG, the employee must be a resident of Ontario, permanent Canadian citizen, or granted refugee status. It is also important to note that it is the employer who makes the application on behalf of the employees through a training initiative that clearly identifies where the training is needed.

As part of the COJG, two short term pilot programs exist to address specific areas of retraining:

Customized training to help address firm-specific training needs, where no such training exists.

Upskills, to provide employers in identified sectors with high quality, cost-effective training tailored to industry needs.

Second Career

Designed to help laid-off workers, Second Career is designed, as the name implies, to find a second (or at least a new) career for those who cannot find work in their current career due to economic and labour market changes.

Created by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, Second Career with cover the training and/or education costs, such as:

  • Tuition
  • Books
  • Travel
  • Transportation

It will also cover costs not directly related to the training and/or education but necessary for its successful completion:

  • Living Expenses
  • Help caring for dependents
  • Disability supports
  • Other living and training costs

Second Career provides financial help up to $28,000 or more in some cases. Bear in mind that Second Career only provides coverage in certain areas of employment categorized by a National Occupational Classification (or NOC) code. A list of what is covered under the Second Career program is available for review.

Anyone who was laid off over the last four years and wishes to apply for Second Career funding must visit an Employment Ontario assessment centre for an assessment interview.

Additional Skills Training And Employment Resources

The Youth Skills Connection Program is targeted towards unemployed and underemployed Ontario residents between the ages of 15 to 29. Through this program, hands on experience is gained through working with an organization such as a local business, not-for-profit, high school, post-secondary school, or an association representing professions, industry or labour.

The Strategic Community Entrepreneurship Projects Program is available for Ontario residents aged 15 to 29 who wish to start their own business. In addition to up to $3,000 in funding, participants will also receive mentoring, business coaching, as well as seminars, workshops, learning modules and resource guides delivered by a participating organization.

The Women in Skilled Trades and Information Technology Training Program offers an opportunity for low-income women who are unemployed or under-employed to gain both in-class and on-the-job training to help find employment in the trades and information technology fields. Funding through this program is delivered to local support agencies in communities where skill shortages have been identified or are projected by local employers and labour market information.

The Ontario Disability Support Employment Program are for Ontario residents who are at least 16 years old and legally allowed to work in Canada that have a significant physical or mental disability that is expected to last for at least a year and is getting in the way of finding or keeping a job. You do not have to be receiving an Ontario Disability Support benefit to be eligible for assistance from this program.

The Ontario Bridge Training Programs help qualified internationally trained individuals move quickly into the labour market in Ontario by providing training and Canadian workplace experience. Bursaries of up to $5,000 cover each participant’s education costs not covered by the Ontario Student Assistance Program. Such costs include tuition, books and equipment. Bursaries are only given to training programs offered by institutions approved by the Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade.

Finally, there are 10 training programs available across Ontario for women who are victims (if not at risk) of abuse. These programs help develop new skills and aid in finding employment for women in this category so they may achieve economic security.

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