Training: Make a change

By Sandra Fletcher

Sometimes when you’re out of work, the natural instinct is to find a job – any job – as soon as you can. In this economy, that’s not always possible. Often, the best solution is to think about education and train yourself for a new job. The government of Ontario, through Employment Ontario, has a lot of opportunities open for out-of-work Ontarians.

There are many services offered by Employment Ontario. And the very best place to start is by meeting with an employment counsellor for an assessment of your particular situation. Your counsellor will look at your specific situation; your work experience; your training and education and your employment goals.

If you and your counsellor decide that training is the best option for you, there are several different options depending on that employment goal.

Skills Development

Skills Development is for people who are unemployed and interested in short duration training programs. The program provides financial assistance to help people with some of the costs associated with acquiring the training they need to re-enter the labour market, such as tuition and books.

The programs, included as part of Skills Development, are usually less than one year in duration. The goal of assisting people with Skills Development funding is to provide them with more marketable skills.

Second Career Strategies

The Second Career Strategies program has been in Ontario for about a year. The goal of this program is to provide career planning and financial support. It is specially designed to help laid-off workers participate in long-term training for a new job. Funding of up to $28,000 to help pay for things like books, tuition, living expenses, dependant care, travel, transportation, etc.

Second Career Strategy helps people get the training or education they need to get a good job.

All training initiatives covered under the Second Career umbrella are over one year in length. They are provided through either Community Colleges or Private Career Colleges. There is an impressive list of careers that you can choose to train for that are considered “high-skill demand careers”. The specific careers are listed on the National Occupation Classification Matrix (Schedule B), which can be found here.


If you are looking for work in the skilled trades, an apprenticeship may be the best route to take for your career training. Apprenticeship is on-the-job training for those who want to work in a job in the trades.

Apprenticeship is a way to learn skills directly from skilled workers.

This type of training provides opportunity to get a well-paying job that demands a high level of skill. Apprentices are paid while they gain work experience. As well, their level of pay increases with their level of skill.

There are over 100 trades in Ontario that will accept applicants in these industries: construction, industrial/manufacturing, and service.

Universities and Colleges

If what you want to do is not something that is covered as part of the other programs, you may want to investigate the province’s University and College programs. The Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities provides information on their 24 Colleges and 19 Universities on its website and the programs that are offered through each.

While there is no direct funding specifically for multi year post-secondary education, there are many loans, bursaries and scholarships available. You can find information about these at each individual institution.

So Many Choices

There are a lot of choices for training and furthering your education. Taking a step toward a new career can sometimes be overwhelming. It’s a complicated decision to make and a confusing process to navigate through.

What you need in this situation is guidance. That advice can and should come from one of the many counsellors available through Employment Ontario:

  • Career decision making advice will come from a counsellor.
  • Counsellors will tell you which programs YOU qualify for and what is best for you
  • Counsellors can refer you to other Employment Ontario programs – whatever route provides the fastest route to employment for you!
  • Counsellors will help with your application processes and requirements for whatever programs are open to you.

A big change in your life can lead to other changes. It’s often said that when one door closes, as with a layoff, another opens. In this case, training for a new career can open so many doors! Take a chance, make that first step and make a change!


For information on how you can access services through Employment Ontario go to their website at or by phone at 1-800-387-5656. They offer assistance in 25 languages.