Industry Insights

Support Ontario Youth Addressing the Skilled Trades Gap: A Unique Solution for an Industry in Crisis

January 23, 2023

A Unique Solution for an Industry in Crisis

The skilled trades shortage is here, and on track to develop into a crisis that could impact economic growth, community well-being, and quality of life for Ontarians. With a generation of tradespeople retiring, there is not a commensurate number of apprentices in the pipeline to take their places. On the current trajectory, the shortage of skilled workers will worsen.

A significant push must be made to bring a new influx of apprentices into the space. But without the proper support and guidance, the apprenticeship process can be daunting and uncertain to navigate, not to mention employers have enough on their plate without adding mentorship to the equation.

Support Ontario Youth (SOY) is an industry and government-supported apprentice sponsor group that provides advice and support to current and future apprentices, employers, and industry stakeholders to streamline the apprenticeship pathway in Ontario. SOY’s mandate is to advocate for the apprentice and support their career while also providing full support to the employer, saving them time and money with quality candidates who can succeed with their company. SOY’s goal is to facilitate a better apprenticeship experience for all sides of the equation to bolster the future of the industry.

“Apprentices are an extremely important part of our business, and the industry. They provide a second set of hands, on jobs of all sizes. Any employer not using an apprentice should start, as they will be the future of your business” Corey D. (President at The Electricians)

As the employer above mentioned, apprentices are necessary to support the economic growth in Ontario, but we can appreciate that the apprenticeship pathway can be complex when trying to navigate it alone. That’s why, with the support of Ontario's Ministry of Labour, Immigration Training, and Skills Development, SOY provides access to valuable information, advocacy, and solutions, with additional wraparound supports that apprentices don’t have access to on their own. SOY matches natural aptitude and behavioural profiles, connecting apprenticeship and employment pathways that lead to success. Our team assesses proof of workforce and workplace competency through our extensive technical expertise to appropriately place the apprentice. And we advance gender equality and diversity.

If issues are encountered throughout the apprenticeship process, SOY will act on the apprentice’s and employer’s behalf in meeting Ministry requirements. SOY connects apprentices with available financial support, helping with administrative tasks, guiding them through the application process, and providing a range of in-house scholarships each year.

“When you have a job in the skilled trades, you have a job for life,” said Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

“We are proud to fund organizations like Support Ontario Youth as they work with small businesses and apprentices to tackle Ontario’s historic labour shortage and bring these well-paying and meaningful careers within reach for young people across our province.”

SOY partners with large industry organizations across the province, simplifying the hiring and administrative process for employers so that they can focus on what they do best – hiring, training, and passing on their skilled trades knowledge. With a network of employers under the SOY umbrella, individual companies share in meeting provincial standards in the delivery of on-the-job portion of apprenticeship training, as they work in partnership with other employers. Employer sponsors gain access to a network of like-minded tradespeople and a range of financial aids to help with training – with continuous support from the SOY team throughout every step of the process.

This Employment Ontario project is funded in part by the Government of Canada and Government of Ontario.


Making a Difference – A Story in Numbers

With the continued support of members and industry partners, SOY is making headway in a comprehensive approach to modernizing the skilled trades:

  • In less than seven months, the total number of SOY apprentices increased by 40%
  • A third of SOY’s employer sponsor base is new to apprenticeship training
  • SOY’s retention of apprentices is over 95%
  • SOY’s top four employer-sponsor apprentice trades include:
    • Electricians (70%)
    • Plumbers (14%)
    • Residential Air Conditioning System Mechanics (8%)
    • Industrial Mechanic Millwrights (8%)
  • SOY has recently taken on the Automotive Service Technician trade, with 10 new apprentices signed on in the first week
  • SOY’s average apprentice age is 27 years old


Making a Difference – Success Stories

“I can honestly say that I have never been more motivated by the assistance I received since signing on with you. Having four previous years with another employer and one simple level of Electrical Construction and Maintenance school behind me, I engaged the assistance of SOY and bam, all things happen. At this stage of my 58 years, I would say that this has been one of the best professional experiences I have ever had with any provincial agency in so far as assistance, administration, encouragement, and effectiveness.”

– Michael A. (Red Seal Electrical Journeyperson)

"As an entry point into the trades, SOY provided extremely fast and detailed responses. SOY was direct and kind, offering me guidance to secure employment. I'm extremely happy to have access to a mentor and guidance through the apprenticeship process in Ontario. SOY has already been an incredible resource. When I have gained more experience and become fully licensed, I hope to be able to work with SOY to help the next generation of electricians."

– Matt M. (SOY Electrical Apprentice)

“SOY is a good program that I would recommend to anyone who comes from another country and is seeking to get back into their trade. They helped me to get back into the electrical field, and back to something I love.”

– Colin G. (SOY Electrical Apprentice)

“It was the easiest process to hire an apprentice through SOY. Everything was taken care of; I kept thinking I should be doing more. The SOY process gave us confidence that the apprentice had gone through an effective vetting process. We hired and the apprentice is working out well.”

– SOY Employer, Arnprior

Support Ontario Youth’s proven track record of assisting apprentices and employers is backed by a team of skilled and experienced industry experts who have come together to listen, support, and help bridge the skilled trades gap in Ontario.

For more information, please visit www.supportontarioyouth.ca


Media Contact:

Tiffany Garcia

SOY Operations Coordinator


Support Ontario Youth Addressing the Skilled Trades Gap: A Unique Solution for an Industry in Crisis

Related Topics: Skilled Trades Support Ontario Youth

This Employment Ontario Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.