A person wearing a hardhat uses a tool to nail pieces of wood together.

Humber College’s Pathways to the Skilled Trades program is helping to introduce a whole new generation of young people to the in-demand skilled trades.

Lynn vanLieshout, manager, Community Projects at Humber, said the College has offered the program over the past three years and that it’s intended for unemployed youth interested in exploring the trades who are also facing financial barriers to participating in training. It’s a popular program with 191 learners enrolling since its inception.

Many of those who have completed the program have gone on to enrol in Humber’s pre-apprenticeship or skilled trades techniques programs.  
The Pathways program is just eight weeks in length and is funded entirely by the Government of Canada through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy initiative, so it’s offered at no cost. The program also offers employment support for individuals to get started in the trades and is designed to help learners make the transition into the trades whether they’ve completed high school or not.  Additional guidance is provided to those who may not have completed high school and may need assistance to determine their best path forward post-program to meet the academic requirements of their chosen trade.

The program includes 30 hours of training per week including 15 hours of trades exposure relevant to the specific pathway chosen.

One of the biggest concerns for those interested in attending post-secondary is cost and how it would be difficult, if not impossible, to attend school full-time without working, said vanLieshout. To help address that, learners in the program earn minimum wage to attend their 30 hours of classes each week and will receive a bonus for program and work completion.  

In addition, the program provides funds to help with transportation and food costs as well as emergency funding to deal with unexpected costs that arise based on demonstrated financial need.

Learners also have an opportunity for a paid work placement.  

There are four intakes each year based on areas of interest including Finish Carpentry, Landscaping, Industrial Trades and Residential Construction. The program is for those aged 18 to 30.

Humber has been promoting the program through traditional routes such as high schools and is committed to providing this opportunity to those that are currently underrepresented in the trades as well including women, Indigenous and racialized people. They’re also reaching out to shelters for unhoused youth, community agencies serving justice involved youth and young adults and Indigenous organizations.

Of the nearly 200 learners who have enrolled in the program, 155 are from diverse racialized groups representative of Toronto, said vanLieshout.
One of the biggest success stories is that of an unhoused youth who took the program and secured a unionized position earning $35 an hour upon completion.

“They went from having no place to live to suddenly having this amazing opportunity that led to a career with a pension and benefits – something they maybe never thought they’d have,” said vanLieshout. “It’s meaningful work because you’re helping youth that are really in need of this opportunity to realize their potential and helping them forge a career pathway they might not have realized even existed.”

Find out more about the program by visiting the Pathways to the Skilled Trades webpage.