Autumn makes us think of all those kids and young adults heading off to elementary, high school, college or university with their backpacks and pencil cases. However, it’s also a great time for adults of all ages to think about skills development or training options! After all, lifelong learning is important to keep our minds sharp, improve our skills and confidence, and help us better compete in today’s competitive workforce. Current, in-demand skills can vastly improve our career prospects, leading to higher incomes and increased job satisfaction and security.

Luckily, here in Ontario there are several education and training options for adults and young people who want to gain new skills. Some are low-cost, while others are no cost at all. We’ve outlined some skill-development options that may be of interest to you and get you thinking about your continued education:

  1. Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS)

Every major town and city in Ontario offers free LBS programs to upgrade basic math and English (or French) language skills. There are also options for ‘distance’ or online learning as well. If you don’t have a high-school diploma, or you simply want to refresh these skills and/or improve your job prospects, be sure to look into LBS classes near you.

  1. Apprenticeship training

There is a shortage of skilled tradespeople in Canada. From the construction industry, industrial trades, service trades and motive power trades, there are endless career opportunities to choose from for men and women of all ages, many of which are very well-paying! There are several ways to get certified beyond the traditional route of being sponsored by an employer. Popular pathways to apprenticeship training include:

  • Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP)
  • Dual Credit Programs for high school/college training
  • College Certificate Programs
  • Pre-Apprenticeship Programs
  • Union or Other Industry Approved Training

There are also government programs that can help pay for apprenticeship training, and here at Focus Employment Services, we regularly offer free, pre-apprenticeship programs for youth! Learn more here or talk to our staff for more information.

  1. Second Career

If you’re unemployed, under-employed or laid off, you may want to find out if you qualify for government-funded retraining through Second Career. There are several factors that help determine if you’re eligible. For example, training must be less than 2 years, college-level, and be related to jobs that are in high demand. Talk to the staff at Focus Employment Services to see how you can apply.

  1. Computer skills upgrading

There’s no denying the importance of computer skills for adults of any age. Whether it’s for your job search, job prospects, or just to manage daily living better, computer skills benefit everyone. Here at Focus Employment Services, we offer free “Computers for Work” courses – check out our workshops and events calendar here to find out when the next course is and how to register.

  1. Part-time or full-time college and university studies

Another option for training is to go back to college or university. You can work steadily over the course of several years or months to take part-time courses towards earning a certificate, diploma, or degree, or dive into full-time studies and apply for an Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan. While some people can juggle work and family obligations while in school, for others it can be more challenging. Be sure that you’re personally and financially prepared before enrolling.

  1. Youth Job Connection

If you’re between 15 and 29 years of age and face multiple barriers to employment, you may be interested in learning more about the Youth Job Connection (YJC) Program offered through Employment Ontario. It includes paid pre-employment training, job matching and paid job placements a well as education and transition support.

  1. Distance and online education

There are numerous recognized online and distance education options available to allow you to gain new skills from your own home, many at little or no cost. Staff from Contact North Online Learning visits our Angus and Alliston locations on a regular basis. They will meet with you to discuss your individual training and education goals. They will help you research and register, as well as provide support and encouragement throughout your studies. Contact one of our locations and we can get you connected.

  1. Other government programs

There are additional funding and education programs you may qualify for, such as retraining for First Nations people through Indigenous Services Canada, or the education and training benefit for ex-military through Veterans Affairs. Be sure to do your research and talk to the staff at Focus Employment Services to see what your options are.

Getting started

While the thought of heading back to school may be intimidating to some, keeping up-to-date and investing in ourselves is always a good idea. Here at Focus Employment Services, we have a wealth of information about retraining options for people of all ages and walks of life; come talk to us. Visit one of our locations today or call us at 1-877-513-0187 to learn more.