Ontario Preparing People in Kitchener-Waterloo for Jobs

Published on January 31, 2020

Government Helping Over 6,000 People Explore Skilled Trades Careers at Conestoga College

January 31, 2020 12:15 P.M. Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development

KITCHENER-WATERLOO - Ontario is addressing a potential skilled trades shortage by providing new funding to help people in the Kitchener-Waterloo area prepare for good jobs and careers in the trades.

"On any given day, there are more than 18,000 vacant jobs in the Kitchener-Waterloo-Barrie region," said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. "Those are paycheques waiting to be collected. But the workers aren't there. My mission is to bridge that skills gap in Kitchener-Waterloo and throughout the province. Today's announcement is the next step."

The government is investing $9.2 million through Conestoga College to provide in-class training to 6,200 apprentices in 21 trades in 2020-21. The increase of $1 million over last year will help an extra 632 people prepare for jobs. Classroom training complements the on-the-job work that apprentices do. Training will occur in four locations in Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, and Cambridge.

In addition, the government is investing almost $750,000 through Conestoga College to fund three pre-apprenticeship training projects for 60 young people. The funding will allow them to get started in trades such as Industrial Mechanic Millwright, Truck and Coach Technician, and Cabinetmaker.

Minister McNaughton made the funding announcement at Conestoga College today as part of a province-wide listening tour to hear from employers, skilled tradespeople and others in the sector.

Pre-apprenticeship training promotes careers in the trades for all Ontario residents. The training programs are free, last up to one year, and often combine classroom training with an 8-12 week work placement.

"Ontario is facing a looming problem," said Minister McNaughton. "Our skilled tradespeople are retiring faster than we can replace them. We need to let young people know that careers in the trades are a viable first choice. They're exciting, fulfilling and often very lucrative."

Today's funding announcement follows the unveiling of Ontario's new marketing campaign highlighting the skilled trades as a viable career path. The ads, with the slogan 'Find a Career You Wouldn't Trade,' are currently running online, in movie theatres and on Tim Hortons TV.

"About one in five new jobs in Ontario over the next five years is expected to be in trades-related occupations," said Minister McNaughton. "Exposing people to careers in the skilled trades and getting them the in-class training they need makes good sense: It helps businesses find talent and opens the doors for people who want to work."

Quick Facts

  • For Statistics Canada’s Job Vacancy and Wage Survey, Kitchener-Waterloo is grouped with Barrie as an economic region.
  • The government is investing $20.8 million this year into the pre-apprenticeship program to create training opportunities for over 1,800 people in the skilled trades. The program is delivered by Ontario colleges, private career colleges, union and non-union training centres and other community organizations.
  • To find out about pre-apprenticeship training programs, contact Employment Ontario by phone, e-mail or live chat.
  • On May 29, 2019, Ontario passed the Modernizing the Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2019 to help transform the skilled trades and apprenticeship system, reduce red tape, and make Ontario open for business and open for jobs.
  • Job seekers can visit ontario.ca/openforbusiness to get training, build their skills and access career information.

Additional Resources


“Building the skilled trades workforce is essential to Ontario's prosperity and well-being. This investment in pre-apprenticeship and in-class training is an important step towards addressing workforce needs while providing opportunities for individuals to access education that leads to successful careers.”
John Tibbits
President, Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning

“We’re very pleased to see the government’s continued commitment to Ontario’s colleges and their pivotal role in apprenticeship training. Minister McNaughton’s announcement today will help produce a more highly skilled workforce for the great careers in the skilled trades.”
Linda Franklin
President and CEO of Colleges Ontario