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Post-Secondary Destinations


Skilled trades play an important role in our economy and our society. Think about it — the sector touches almost every aspect of our lives, from the homes we live in, to the cars we drive, to the food we eat. With over 130 careers to choose from, the skilled trades sector truly does offer something for everyone. Skilled tradespeople are in demand all across the country, and the demand is growing. Not only are there going to be a lot of job opportunities, but people in skilled trades get paid well, too! In fact, as an apprentice, you can start making money right away because you “earn while you learn”. An apprenticeship is a hands-on training program for people who want to work in a skilled trade and enjoy learning by doing. About 90% of the training is on the job, under the supervision of a licensed journeyman. The rest of the time is spent learning in the classroom. Depending on the trade, an apprenticeship lasts from two to fi ve years. After the completion of their apprenticeship, apprentices write an exam to qualify for a Certifi cate of Qualifi cation. You can even get a head start on your apprenticeship while you’re in high school. The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) is a course you can take in Grade 11 or 12 to learn a skilled trade and begin registering your apprenticeship hours, while earning credits toward your high school diploma.


Ontario’s colleges provide students with the opportunity to develop the skills that can lead to rewarding careers in business, applied arts, technology, and health sciences. Colleges offer a variety of full- and part-time career-oriented programs for secondary school graduates and for mature students who may not have completed secondary school. Most college programs are either diploma programs (which may be either two or three years in length) or certifi cate programs (which run one year or less). Some courses of study lead to official certification in skilled trades that are regulated by professional associations. In addition, many colleges offer programs of study leading to bachelor degrees in applied areas of study. There are co-op options available in several programs. Almost all programs require an Ontario Secondary School Diploma, with Grade 12 English at the “C”, “U/C”or “U” level. Some programs also require senior mathematics and science “C”, “U/C”, or “U”. Check individual colleges and programs to determine the specifi c prerequisites for the program of your choice. Admission decisions are usually based on grades, and sometimes questionnaire completion and attendance at information sessions. Some program areas, such as health, human services and media, are more competitive than others.


Universities offer undergraduate degrees (bachelor), professional degrees (eg. MD, LLB), and graduate degrees (master’s and doctorate.) Students can often combine programs to complete, for example, a degree in two subject areas such as chemistry and physics, English and history, or environmental studies and geography. Some universities and colleges of applied arts and technology have joint programs that let students earn a university degree and a college diploma simultaneously. Most undergraduate degree programs are three or four years in length. The basic requirement for admission is 6 “U” or “U/C” (M) courses. Most programs have specifi c subject requirements and some universities require a minimum number of “U” courses. See individual university calendars for the requirements for specifi c programs. Some programs are more competitive than others and require higher grade averages for admission. Admission decisions are based on grades, although some programs/universities require supplemental information, portfolios, or auditions for admission.


Many opportunities exist for people who decide to go right to work after high school, and there are lots of options for you to think about. Most employers are looking for certain “essential skills”. Depending on the job, those skills might include reading, writing, computer use, money math, decision making, problem solving, or measurement and calculation. You will also have a better chance of getting a good job if you can show that you have good work habits, such as working safely, teamwork, reliability, initiative, customer service, and entrepreneurship. During high school, you can get ready for the world of work through cooperative education, youth apprenticeship opportunities and volunteer experiences. If you’re thinking about going right to work after high school, talk to your guidance counsellor about how you can get ready. Even after you fi nish high school, you continue to learn. The more you’re willing to learn, you’re more likely to succeed at work, at home and in your community. There are lots of ways to continue learning. Self-study programs, on-the-job training, part-time courses and online learning are all great ways for you to develop your skills and knowledge if you go directly to work after high school.


Here’s an overview of five main employment sectors. To learn more about jobs that are related to your interests and abilities, talk with your guidance counsellor.


Arts, Communications and Recreation 

People attracted to careers in this sector like to write stories, poetry and music, sketch, draw, paint, play musical instruments, sing, dance, act, take photos and be physically active. This career path includes programs related to the humanities and to the performing, visual, literary, media arts and recreation. These include architecture, creative writing, fi lm and cinema studies, fi ne arts, graphic design and production, journalism, foreign languages, radio and television broadcasting, advertising, public relations, coaching, instructors in recreation and sport. 

Business, Finance, Sales and Service 

People attracted to careers in this sector like to influence, persuade, perform, lead, or manage in order to meet organizational goals for economic gain. They like to make decisions, meet people, initiate projects, give talks and speeches, organize activities or lead a group. Other people attracted to careers in this pathway like to work with data using clerical or numerical ability, carry out tasks in detail and follow through on instructions from others. Programs may include entrepreneurship, sales, marketing, hospitality and tourism, computer information systems, fi nance, accounting, personnel, economics and management.

Health, Natural and Applied Sciences and Information Technology

People attracted to careers in this sector like to work with people. This career path includes programs related to the promotion of health as well as the treatment of injuries, conditions and diseases. These may include medicine, dentistry, nursing, therapy, rehabilitation, nutrition, fi tness, hygiene, engineering and computers. They like to observe, learn, analyse, investigate, evaluate and solve problems. They like to work independently or in teams, analyse data, do research, deal with abstractions, explore a variety of ideas, perform lab experiments, do complex calculations, and understand scientific methods and theories.

Social Sciences, Government and Human Services 

People attracted to careers in this pathway like to work with people. This career path includes programs related to economic, political, and social systems. This pathway may include education, law and legal studies, law enforcement, public administration, child and family services, religion and social services.

Trades, Transport and Industrial Technology

People attracted to careers in this pathway like to work with their hands. They like to work with objects, machines, tools, plants, or animals. This career path includes programs related to the technologies necessary to design, develop, install or maintain physical systems. These include engineering and related technologies, mechanics and repair, manufacturing technology, precision production, electronics, construction, fisheries management and forestry.