Through investments in K-12 education, employment and training programs, building and repairing schools, campuses and labs, and making post-secondary education more affordable, the government is building a stronger skills-based education system that will help young people compete for the jobs of today.
In 2013, the government introduced Ontario's Youth Jobs Strategy. The strategy invested $295 million over two years to help connect 30,000 youth with the tools, experiences and entrepreneurial support they need to find employment or start their own businesses.
In 2015, Ontario renewed the Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy by investing an additional $250 million over two years, bringing the total investment in youth employment programming to more than $565 million. The extension of the strategy provides employment and skills development opportunities for up to 150,000 youth.
The Youth Jobs Strategy is:
- Creating job opportunities for more than 25,000 youth across Ontario through the Youth Employment Fund
- Helping youth build career skills and secure industry jobs through Youth Skills Connections
- Tapping into postsecondary talent to drive industry R&D and business growth, while building students' career skills, through the Youth Innovation Fund
- Preparing young people to start and run their own businesses through the Youth Entrepreneurship Fund
- Helping youth who experience multiple barriers to employment through the Youth Job Connection
- Preparing youth for employment by giving them access to resources and information to develop career management skills through Youth Job Link
Students still on campus in colleges and universities have the opportunity to develop their entrepreneurial skills through the Campus Linked Accelerators (CLA) program and On-Campus Entrepreneurial Activities (OCEA) to develop entrepreneurial skills and transfer academic expertise and knowledge to the marketplace. The CLA and OCEA worked with all postsecondary institutions in Ontario, supported 938 businesses and held 248 competitions and contests with over 14,000 student participants.
In addition, Ontario invests over $1 billion annually in Employment Ontario, which serves approximately one million people, including:
- Employers, who can use the network to find the workers with the skills they need
- Workers, apprentices, newcomers and youth, who benefit from skills training, connections to employment opportunities, employer tax credits, and other employment and career planning services
The Employment Ontario network helped approximately one million Ontarians in 2015-16, including over 122,800 employers across Ontario.
The government has also increased support for apprenticeships. This year, Ontario announced $13 million in additional funding for pre-apprenticeship programs, in-class training supports of $19 million over three years, and $23 million over two years toward the Apprenticeship Enhancement Fund.
Developing a highly skilled workforce is crucial to the future success of Ontario's economy, as well as helping all people fulfill their ambitions and aspirations as they attain good jobs. In June, the Premier's Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel released its final report, which the government will use to help further its skills agenda.
The report includes recommendations in six key areas:
- Building stronger partnerships between educators and employers by establishing a new Planning and Partnership Table, supported by a new Workforce Planning and Development Office within government
- Increasing access to job market information by working with the federal government to help lead the creation of a national system to give employers and job-seekers better access to information such as where jobs exist and which skills employers will need in the future
- Expanding opportunities for learning by experience by funding more placements so that every student completes at least one experiential learning opportunity before graduating from high school, and another before finishing college or university
- Promoting both traditional and non-traditional career paths by increasing students' exposure to options including the arts, science, engineering, technology, skilled trades and entrepreneurship
- Investing in human capital by launching programs to support training in the workplace and encouraging large employers to share successful training programs with small- and medium-sized enterprises
- Closing gaps in skills and competencies by finding ways to teach and recognize the skills that students learn, such as teamwork, problem solving and entrepreneurial spirit, and by developing training programs for groups underrepresented in the workplace to allow them better access to employment opportunities
Moving forward, Ontario will continue to implement the recommendations of the Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel, particularly recommendations related to more support for and focus on adult education pathways, apprenticeship and experiential learning embedded in all levels of education.