Toronto District School Board

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Toronto District School Board

TDSB Feedback on Accelerated Apprenticeship Pathways Consultation

Categories: Advocacy

November 24, 2023

The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Education Minister of Ontario

Dear Minister Lecce,

As the Chair of the Toronto District School Board, I am writing to you to share our perspectives on Accelerated Apprenticeship Pathways and to highlight concerns on models that have been put forward by the Ministry of Education for consideration through the province's regulatory registry. 

As articulated clearly by the Ontario Public School Boards Association (OPSBA), any Accelerated Apprenticeship Pathways strategy must not diminish the value of school-based education. 

Our board is particularly alarmed that the ongoing consultation paper on Accelerated Apprenticeship Pathways suggests the complete removal of students from public school boards after grade 10. 

We foresee several detrimental impacts with apprenticeship models that would completely remove young people from secondary schools and school boards as early as grade 11. These young people would no longer be able to access the crucial supports that school boards supported by the Ministry of Education provide, including guidance and professional support services for mental health and well-being. They would be unable to participate in secondary school extracurricular activities, including school sports teams. They would also be unable to complete their high school diplomas at the same time as their peers, further isolating them from peer groups at a critical time in their young lives.  

Removing young people from school boards before completing secondary school diplomas to pursue apprenticeship risks furthering the stigma of the trades as a pathway only for those who could not complete secondary school. Such models would jeopardize the gains your government in particular has made in promoting apprenticeship and the skilled trades across all backgrounds and academic abilities. Moreover, we are committed to ensuring that any educational pathway maintains a balance that does not hinder students from completing their high school diplomas, as flagged by People for Education in their March 2023 report, 'The Unanswered Questions in Ontario’s Proposed Apprenticeship Plan.' 

We would also note that any educational framework should align with international standards and safeguards to ensure the rights and wellbeing of persons under the age of 18. We second the Ontario Public School Boards' Association’s (OPSBA) concerns around potential unintended consequences, such as renewed streaming for racialized students, leading to a demographic of students directed precipitously to a career pathway without built-in supports and backup plans should they change their minds.  

In addition, we are in strong support OPSBA’s recommendations, including: 

  • Supporting expanded funding and placements for the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, Specialist High Skills Major, and Cooperative Education programs. 

  • Addressing the lack of skilled trades education and apprenticeship options for Indigenous students in Indigenous communities. 

  • Providing dedicated funding for renovations in secondary school facilities and new construction to provide shop programs to support careers in the skilled trades (Grades 7 to 12). 

  • Continuing targeted marketing and communications, specifically directed at parents/guardians/caregivers, students, educators, and employers, to further elevate skilled trades to a respected and desirable pathway. 

Programs such as OYAP, SHSM, and Cooperative Education have become well-established, viable programs over time, providing the opportunity for students to explore career pathways while earning an OSSD. These existing school-anchored programs have been well-supported by parents/guardians/ caregivers and business/industry partners. 

Skilled trades workplace environments are adult settings and are not designed to receive and support impressionable 15- and 16-year-olds. No specific training has yet been identified for workplace partners that would appropriately prepare them for this age group of students. 

Under any models contemplated, school boards would benefit from enhanced resourcing and system supports to: 

  • better integrate education and apprenticeship, including supports to public school boards continuing education programming that complements apprenticeship training;  

  • offer guidance and other supports for system navigation; 

  • uphold educational and workplace rights, including youth occupational health and safety. 

We would also recommend that under any model there be public collection and reporting of identity-based data on student pathways and outcomes to monitor how policies and programs are impacting different students. 

As a board, we are committed to exploring pathways that offer diverse opportunities for students - and commend the province for improving access to these opportunities - but it is critical that we continue to uphold the integrity and comprehensive nature of their educational experience. We are dedicated to engaging constructively in this dialogue and providing feedback during the open consultation on Accelerated Apprenticeship Pathways. 

Thank you for considering our concerns and insights on this crucial matter. 


Rachel Chernos Lin 
Chair, Toronto District School Board 


Hon. David Piccini, Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development Minister of Ontario
Ontario Public School Boards’ Association
Ontario Student Trustees’ Association (OSTA-AECO)