Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP)

Welcome to the SMCDSB Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP)


Did you know you can start your apprenticeship as a Simcoe Muskoka Catholic high school student? 
If you take co-op in grade 11 or 12, you can become a fully licensed tradesperson by the age of 21 through the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program. There are over 140 Skilled Trades to choose from, and many of them are in-demand in Simcoe Muskoka. With the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program you can stay local and earn while you learn. Check out the list of available trades!

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What is the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP)?

The OYAP cooperative education program allows secondary students aged 16-18  to register as an apprentice while they are still in high school! Students will gain hands-on training while they are working towards a certification. It is a great choice for students who enjoy learning by doing. Apprenticeship training provides access to well-paying jobs that demand a high level of skill, judgment and creativity.

Every year, our high schools successfully register numerous students in the OYAP program. Some of our former students finished their apprenticeships and were writing their certification exams when they were only 20 or 21 years old – this is an amazing feat.


What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship is hands-on training and certification for people who enjoy learning by doing. The training provides access to well-paying jobs that demand a high level of skill, judgment and creativity. Apprentices are paid while gaining work experience and their wages increase with their level of skills.

Why choose the skilled trades and apprenticeship?

  • A current shortage of skilled tradespersons is expected to become more evident in the next five to ten years as thousands of certified journey-persons reach retirement age

  • Approximately 50% of secondary school graduates do not move immediately to college or university

  • Apprentices earn wages while learning their trade

  • Many licensed tradespeople earn more than $50,000 per year and have their own business.

Information for Grade 9 Students

Best case scenario you take an active role in planning your future- really think about the kind of work and activities that you like to do, and you’re good at.

Research jobs you’ve heard of, then research jobs you’ve never heard of.  What does a glazier’s day look like, how much money do arborists make, what skills do industrial millwrights need?  And then you choose the classroom projects/ experiences that help you get used to working with your hands.  If you are given the option, build a 3D model of a medieval times village for history class.  Do the hair and makeup for Elizabethan England.
And take a shop class!  Our shop classes need more girls, and they offer practical life skills for everyone.  Many of our shop teachers are licensed tradespeople themselves, and are wonderful and willing in-house specialists. 

Find out how to change a tire, how to build a table, how to make your own food. By the time you get to grade 11 and it’s time for co-op you will already have the knowledge about the kind of work you enjoy and then you get to choose the type of placement.


ProTip: You know yourself best- how you learn, what you like, where you are strong, and what areas need work.  I want you to trust that self-knowledge: if you know already that you are someone who likes variety in your day, problem solving, creativity, and using your hands to fix things- then you’re my people. 


Action Item: Talk to your guidance counselor. Do your research. Know your strengths.


Information for Grade 10 Students

One year into high school, you’ve got a far better idea of what course offerings are available to best suit your learning style.  Keep honing your hands on skills with more shop classes. Take full advantage of your careers class and Xello, our career exploration tool.  Try the matchmaker quizzes. 

This is an ideal year to decide what type of trade(s) you’d like to explore- far better you make this decision than others make it for you. Where are the trade schools that offer apprenticeship training for this trade? Do a ‘deeper dive’ into trades specializations i.e. if you want to be a welder, what type of welder would you like to be? 

Communicating with adults is an important life skill- think of it as interview practice. It can be intimidating to start these conversations, but if you present yourself as trades focused and determined you will be just fine.  Do you know any friends and family in the trades? What’s their advice? Be sure to introduce yourself to the coop teachers.  Coop teachers are an important relationship in your apprenticeship journey, and many have years of experience with community placements.  Where do they recommend you look? What are their tips for best success?


Pro Tip:  Consider bundling your courses, experiences and certifications to maximize your high school experience.  Find out what SHSMs your school offers.  Next year, could you take woodshop/ take coop with a roofer/ enrol in a construction SHSM?  Does your school offer an apprenticeship math course next year? 


Action Item: Talk to your guidance counselor. Take shop. Get to know the coop department.


Information for Grade 11 Students

Ok, you’ve done your research and made some connections.  Now it’s time for real world experience in a skilled trades coop. Are you 16 years of age? Have 16 credits? 

When you are in a skilled trades coop, you are considered an OYAP participant. There’s paperwork for that.  It’s important that you and your parents/ guardians complete and return this paperwork to your coop teacher, as it’s the first step in creating your record of experience with the Ministry of Labour Training and Skills Development.  As an OYAP participant, a student may have the opportunity to become an apprentice, with a registered training agreement, while attending secondary school.

Apprentices are required to work so many ‘on the job’ hours for certification, so learn how to keep good track of your coop hours. And be sure to make the most of your time in the work place- ask your coop supervisor and coworkers about their journey to the trades.  What tools are most in use? What’s the best part of their day? What is the trade code? Practice speaking in the language of the trade, that shows your boss you are eager to learn and advance in the trade.

One of the intentions of cooperative education is to help students develop themselves professionally- to show up on time, be willing to listen, put down the phone, and come to work with required tools and safety equipment.



Pro tip: You must be 16 to be OYAP eligible, so speak with your guidance counselor regarding your birthday, and the best semester for you to take coop.


Action Item: Talk to your guidance counselor. Take co-op.  Enrol in an Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program. 


Information for Grade 12 Students

If you love working with your hands, and the idea of post secondary education with no debt excites you, see about a full day (4 period) skilled trades coop where you be registered as an OYAP apprentice, called an OYAP registrant. There’s paperwork for that. Remember the participant form you signed in Grade 11? Same form, but now you need to sign page 2 and provide additional information, namely your Social Insurance Number.  It’s important that you and your parents/ guardians complete and return this paperwork to your coop teacher, as it’s the first step in creating your Registered Training Agreements, which will be submitted to the Ministry of Labour Training and Skills Development. The creation of the agreements generates your client ID, which follows you throughout your apprenticeship training.

Once you are registered, you can then count your co-op hours toward your on the job training if your employer agrees.  That’s how you can start your apprenticeship in high school.  You graduate high school with co-op credits toward your diploma AND hours toward your apprenticeship training.  A lot of times employers will hire co-op students right after graduation, so they immediately start getting paid, still as registered apprentices. After about a year on the job, apprentices go to trade school in 8-10 week blocks called Level 1, 2 and 3. After trade school they come back to the job site and immediately use what they learned in class to get better at their trade.


Pro tip: Download the Training standard for your trade.  These are readily available with a quick google search.  Training standards give an overview of the entire apprenticeship as well as individual skills and competencies you will need for certification.  


Action Item: Talk to your guidance counselor. Stack semester 1 timetable with compulsory credits for graduation.  Take full day (4 period) co-op in semester 2.


Contact Us!

Ready to build the life you want? Contact us today! Complete the OYAP Information Form and we will be in touch with you as soon as possible. 

OYAP Teacher: Steacy Hinton, 705) 722-3555 ext. 281 or e-mail shinton@smcdsb.on.ca