Ontario Helping Underprivileged Youth Start Careers in Construction

Published on July 26, 2021

SCARBOROUGH — The Ontario government is investing over $600,000 to help 390 young people from underrepresented backgrounds to secure in-demand apprenticeships in the construction sector. Hammer Heads is a free pre-apprenticeship non-profit program created by the Central Ontario Building Trades (CBOT) to support at-risk youth from the GTA.

“Not every young person needs to go to university. Rewarding jobs in the construction sector are growing, well-paid and going unfilled,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD). “Hammer Heads helps guide talented, trained and eager young people along their journey to these life-changing careers.”

Hammer Heads’ 10 week program covers health and safety training, helps participants with academic upgrading (i.e. working with students to obtain their high school diploma equivalency), provides soft skills job preparation, and provides a placement with a union for an apprenticeship.

“Our government‘s top priority is to bring greater awareness to the skilled trades – we want to expose Ontario’s youth to these dream jobs in much-demanded sectors,” said Deepak Anand, Parliamentary Assistant to MLTSD. “Hammer Heads not only provides the essential tools, but also supports and works with underrepresented youth to obtain meaningful jobs.”

Our government is funding three projects to tackle youth unemployment:

  • $350,569 for a free pre-apprenticeship program led by Hammer Heads to enable 18 youths, in two cohorts of nine, to participate in Hammer Heads’ 10-week program. The second cohort begins on January 17, 2022.
  • $218,200 for the Pinball Clemons Foundation to mentor 300 graduates of the Hammer Heads pre-apprenticeship program in years 2-6 of their apprenticeships. The Hammer Heads program currently guides program graduates through the first year of apprenticeship employment.
  • $34,314 for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 353 to create and deliver the Hammer Heads Virtual Reality Safety Training project, which will help 72 Hammer Heads participants travel virtually onto real construction sites to learn about safety hazards and best practices.

These new programs are part of Ontario’s $115-million Skills Development Fund, specifically designed to support fresh ideas that address challenges related to hiring, rehiring, and training workers during COVID-19.

If you have any questions or concerns about the program, feel free to contact our Office at (905) 696 0367 or email us at [email protected].



Quick Facts

  • People interested in the January Hammer Heads cohort can apply, for free, through referrals by youth employment agencies, employment service providers, case workers, job coaches, youth shelters, Children’s Aid and other youth support providers. Applications are also accepted online at https://www.hammerheadsprogram.com/.
  • According to BuildForce Canada, the construction industry will need more than 100,000 additional workers, including skilled tradespeople, to replace retiring workers and meet expected employment growth over the next decade (2021-2030).
  • The unemployment rate for youth (aged 15-24) was 17.2% in June 2021, which was more than twice as high as the province’s unemployment rate (8.4%).
  • The Pinball Clemons Foundation provides marginalized and racialized youth with educational resources and options to integrate into mainstream society. Its goal is to see youth successfully enter the workforce and be gainfully employed in careers of their choice.