In addition to the well-known trades of plumber, electrician and carpenter, the skilled trades also include hairdresser, baker, child and youth worker, educational assistant, roofer, heavy equipment operator, machinist and drywall finisher.
These are just a few of the 144 skilled trades in Ontario.
Although these trades are very different, they have one thing in common – they all need the people in the field to have some math skills.
For a detailed list of the math skills needed in the trades, visit the foundations section of this Trades – Math document.
Don’t worry if it has been a while since you were in a math class or you have realized you are not familiar with everything on this list. Contact any of the free adult upgrading, and training programs for help.
Our adult training and upgrading programs offer assessments to help you pick the skills you need to focus on to get you where you want to go in the trades.
The math section of this self-assessment will give you another list of the math skills needed in the trades.
This assessment includes measurement (metric / imperial), dimensions (area or volume), estimates (time, distance, volume or quantity), ratios and proportions (using scale drawings) and geometry (calculate slopes or elevation).
If you complete this assessment and feel like you might need assistance, contact an adult training program in your area. We can help with training or a math refresher.
Free Adult Training and Upgrading
Adult training and upgrading programs can help you develop the core math skills needed to work in any trade.
We make sure you have the base you need so you are ready to learn trade specific math once you are in an apprenticeship, training program or when you need to learn on-the-job.
Adult training and upgrading programs are for people who are:
thinking about working in a trade
working in a trade
registered as an apprentice
preparing for the Certificate of Qualification (CofQ) exam
We can help you pinpoint the skills you need to develop for the trade you are interested in, which means your training will be customized, short and focused.
There are free workbooks available online. Below you will find two available through the Canadian Government.
The demand for digital skills in the trades can be seen throughout Canada and around the world. The report identified that:
“Tradespeople will need seven core digital skills: technical, information management, digital communication, virtual collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving in digital environments.” (Bridging Generational Divides, Page 9)
Adult Training and Upgrading
Adult training and upgrading programs in Ontario, also known as Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS), have seen a growth in the demand for digital skills over the years. During the pandemic, we saw the need for digital literacy skills skyrocket as everything moved online. People needed digital skills to do everyday things such as apply for financial support, communicate with their doctor or get their kids online for school. For apprentices this meant having the skills to register online, complete training, and communicate with employers digitally.
Adult training and upgrading programs in Ontario responded to the increased need for digital literacy training by developing and offering additional online and in-person training programs, including Zoom training. We want to make sure people have the skills they need to succeed in meeting their career and educational goals, including individuals preparing to start an apprenticeship.
Pre- and Post-Apprenticeship Training Options
Adult training and upgrading programs support people who are thinking about entering the skilled trades, including those in pre-apprenticeship programs. Additionally, we offer help to those already registered as an apprentice but who need a bit of extra support with things such as digital literacy, math and communication skills. We are also known for being able to help people prepare for success with their Certificate of Qualification (C of Q) exams.
We can also support those currently in a trade, but who might be thinking about leaving because they don’t have the core skills they need for success at the moment. With a little help, they can succeed. In this way, LBS programs can help with retention in the trades which will go a long way in improving the completion rates.
Digital Technology in the Trades: Examples
The “Bridging Generational Divides” report identifies areas where digital technology is being used in the automotive, manufacturing and food service industries, but their findings can be applied to all trades. For example, the need for computers, tablets, smartphones, apps, and handheld devices is found in all the trades to some degree.
The paper captured many examples of the growing need for digital skills in the trades, including:
installing and operating machines and equipment
using diagnostic and monitoring tools
reading digital blueprints
completing quality control
communicating and sharing information with customers, trainers and other trades people (e.g. email, text, Microsoft Teams and Zoom)
receiving online work orders, and product and service orders from customers
placing orders for parts and supplies
Finally, there is a need for information management skills, including accessing forums for troubleshooting support and for finding information, manuals and training online.
An EdCan Network article ‘Skilled Trades in the Digital Age‘ provides even more examples of digital skills and tools in the trades. It includes GPS-guided excavation on construction sites and in resource extraction, accessing information on tablets, such as schematic drawings, as well as scheduling and invoicing software. It provides an example were technology can be found in equipment including heavy haulers.
They “have a tremendous number of sensors that collect data about everything from how hard the equipment is hitting bumps, to how inflated the tires are and where the bumps are located so the road can actually be fixed.”
The need for digital skills is an significant development in the trades. It is made even more significant because it is being embraced at different rates. The “Bridging Generational Divides” study found that apprentices may be more open to using digital technology than a journeyperson.
For example, one of the challenges going forward will be the apprentices’ preference for text and email and a journeypersons’ preference for in person and phone discussions.
There is a need for strong foundational skills in digital literacy for those considering a career in the skilled trades; however, there is also a need to support those already in the trades. For example, LBS can help to provide training to address the intergenerational communication differences identified in the report, such as email and text communication.
In our programs, we begin by measuring the individuals’ current skills so we can work with them to design a customized training program that will help them build on their current computer, communication and math skills. Some people come in for a refresher while others are looking to develop new skills. We create an individual plan that fits their needs and schedule including offering one-on-one, group or online training.
What was also clear in the report was the clear link between soft skills and digital skills. This includes communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving. LBS programs have been recognized over the years for providing the opportunity to develop these soft skills which further prepares people for work in the trades.
Adult training and upgrading programs provide the base skills so that people in the trades have the foundation and confidence needed to learn the digital tools and software specific to their industry.
The ‘Bridging Generational Divides’ report concludes with a list of next steps for addressing labour and digital skills shortages. They include recommendations for employers, tradespeople, training providers, unions, and governments. To see the list of recommendations, visit page 27 of the report.
We recommend reaching out to any of our adult training programs located throughout Ontario to ask how we can help support the development of foundational digital literacy skills needed in all jobs, including the skilled trades.
For a list of services in the LOCS region, including Haliburton, City of Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough, Northumberland and Hastings, visit our programs page or contact Carrie Wakeford at .
Digital skills are not just for the individuals who come to our programs to gain computer, tablet, smart phone and office skills. We all need to be learning. This includes those who work as trainers across Ontario. To be prepared to support learners in reaching their work and academic goals, we need to stay current with our own skills.
Literacy Ontario Central South (LOCS) is a member of an Ontario wide Digital Literacy Committee. We are working with an amazing group of individuals committed to providing digital skills training to the people who train others. This is a train-the-trainer series. By staying current we are all better prepared to help learners in our programs as they develop their digital literacy skills.
As part of this committee, LOCS developed and led a webinar for LBS organizations in Ontario including managers, instructors, practitioners and executive directors. The webinar focused on one aspect of digital skills – online promotion of our services. The webinar offered practical tips for getting found online. In the webinar we talked about what people would search for if their goal was to get their Grade 12, prepare for college or an apprenticeship or gain workplace skills. We talked about making our websites accessible, based on the AODA requirements. We also touched on social media and the value of building a web of connections.
These tips will be helpful to any organization managing a website, so we decided to share the information here so that our partners also have access.
We have posted a document “Getting Found Online – Resources“. This document has helpful tips as well as links that will help you test and evaluate your current website.
We have also posted a document “Website Design and Redesign” that will be helpful in assessing your current website when you are making decisions about what you want to add and remove.
Let’s all do what we can to reach learners and clients with information about the training we offer.
It was wonderful to meet so many people in this webinar who were committed to staying current with their own digital literacy skills. Ontario is fortunate to have so many great organizations available to support adult learning in the province.
For more information please contact Carrie Wakeford at .
Literacy Ontario Central South (LOCS) is one of the 16 regional literacy networks in Ontario. Together we make up the Learning Networks of Ontario. Our networks work together to support adult training and literacy programs in the province and in our individual regions.
We lead local planning within our communities, working closely with our partners, including employment services and other support organizations.
Finding A Program
Literacy Ontario Central South
LOCS represents the counties of City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton, Hastings, Northumberland and Peterborough. If you are looking for training programs in these areas, visit our programs page. There you will find a link to all of the training organizations in each county. Contact Carrie Wakeford directly if you would like assistance finding information: .
LOCS works closely with our peers in the Eastern Region. The Eastern Region includes both the Ottawa and Kingston areas. You can find links to the Eastern Region at The Learning Networks of Ontario website.
If you are in another community anywhere in Ontario, you can contact one of the 16 networks for help finding training options in your area. All of the networks in the North, South, East and Western Ontario regions can be found at the same website The Learning Networks of Ontario.
For more information you can call or email is at LOCS. We are available by phone at (705) 313-4385 or you can contact Carrie Wakeford at
Fleming College expands the work and education choices for Haliburton County residents
A young carpenter improving her math to get ahead in her career. A dad finishing what he started decades ago. A mom juggling a family, part-time work and financial struggles. A new Canadian upgrading her skills to meet course requirements for a practical nursing program.
These are just some of the people in Haliburton County who have turned to Skills on Demand: Work & Academic Upgrading—a flexible work and academic upgrading program of Fleming College, designed to help adult learners reach their educational and career goals.
The free program appeals to adults with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.
Learners can choose courses in a variety of subjects including math, computers, communication and sciences.
Learners register for Fleming’s Skills on Demand program for a variety of reasons, explains Marion Willemsen, professor and program coordinator. Some are looking to finish high school or get the courses they need to get into college. Some work towards their Academic and Career Entrance (ACE) certificate—a Grade 12 equivalent that opens the door to college programs and apprenticeships. Others want to learn new skills to advance in their careers or fulfill a commitment they made to themselves. While their reasons vary, nearly all the people in the program face the challenge of adding school to an already-long list of work and family responsibilities.
“Learning becomes easier without challenges or barriers,” says Willemsen, which is why Fleming offers flexible options in an environment that is welcoming and inspiring.
Skills on Demand is delivered in small groups or through one-on-one support. Training can be taken full-time or part-time, in the day or evening – anything to accommodate work and family responsibilities. Program flexibility allows learners to start any time and provides access to multiple learning options: learning from home or work, in the classroom or online – in any combination.
Before learners attend classes, they complete an essential skills assessment, so they know where they need to start – there is no need to complete courses in things you already know. Program staff work with learners to determine their existing skills, learning style and needs.
“Sometimes learners don’t know what their goal is until they’ve done the assessment and looked at the options,” says Willemsen.
“We accept learners at any level and create an individual learning plan with each person. This plan helps them reach their goals. We always encourage each of them to set a goal so they are creating a timeline for themselves that is achievable.”
Opportunity is a two-way street and learners are in control of their own direction, Willemsen explains. And for many learners in the work and academic program, that more than rings true. As a professor, she has witnessed student success. “People have grit, work hard with determination and a real commitment to their goals.”
Like a mom who had to take a different route to complete her training during the COVID lockdown. She was working online but her kids were using the ‘bandwidth’ in the house because she was homeschooling them.
Students aren’t the only ones enriched by the program. Instructors like Willemsen, also feel a deep connection to the people they help through the program.
“There’s nothing better than helping somebody who wants to better their life and career goals by upgrading their skills. A lot of people are unsure when they start, but that’s what we’re here for. The best way to begin is just to get your foot in the door” says Willemsen.
Fleming Skills on Demand also works with other services such as Fleming CREW Employment Centre and the John Howard Society. Together, the partners offer community-based programming that helps people build skills and connect to the local workforce or go further with their education.
One new program we are offering together is a five-day bootcamp called STRIVE. This program focuses on supporting people as they prepare for work. The program was designed after local employers expressed concerns about some missing skills in the Haliburton community.
STRIVE is also a great program for employers who are thinking about offering on-the-job training. “We can help employers with retention which is important when employers are struggling to find employees,” says Willemsen.
“We can also help employers and their staff. We have employers who send their workers to us to gain skills. In one case, there was a young carpenter who was not offered a promotion because she needed stronger math skills so she could do measurements that required her to add, subtract and multiply fractions. Her employer sent her to take the program one day a week and she successfully finished it.”
“We also provide training for people who need to learn to use Zoom or other computer skills. With COVID we have learned that not everyone has the computer skills they need to access programs, services, training, or work. We can help make that happen.
In some cases, people want to take training but they don’t have access to technology or the Internet. We can help with that too! We make sure people have what they need to access the training they want.
We want people to have fair access to computer skills and technology because it is so important – especially now. This past year we have been jumping through all sorts of hoops to try to reach people so they can continue with their program.”
Reflecting on Willemsen’s years of educating people, she highlights the importance of developing a mutual respect with learners and encouraging them on their journey.
“As instructors, we’ll do whatever we can to help our learners succeed, whether it’s one-on-one support, loaning them a laptop and even helping them with their Internet connection,” said Willemsen.
If you are in Haliburton, Ontario and would like to learn more about how Fleming Skills on Demand–Work and Academic Upgrading can help you, you can contact Jennifer Gill at or call at 705-761-2382.
‘7 Grandfather Teachings’ guides student learning at Peterborough Native Learning Program
The Seven Grandfather Teachings has been a guide for Indigenous people, communities and organizations for generations. At the Peterborough Native Learning Program (PNLP), it’s the cornerstone of everyday learning.
Jason Gilbert, PNLP’s executive director says that for over 20 years, PNLP has been reconnecting learners with their Indigenous culture and traditions.
“Whether you’re Indigenous or not, some of the most powerful teachings we can learn in our lives are rooted in Indigenous traditions,” he says. “The thing that binds us all together include the Seven Grandfather Teachings that both honour and guide Anishinaabe life—Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth.”
These core values are necessary, he adds, to our wellbeing, how we conduct ourselves in our relationships and exist in harmony and peace with the world.
PNLP also incorporates culturally-appropriate lessons and the Medicine Wheel, which reminds us that we need to balance the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical parts of our lives for true wellbeing.
Gilbert says these teachings fit well into how we support learners in overcoming challenges and barriers.
PNLP is an adult learning agency that helps individuals over the age of 19 reach their goals. The organization is considered a key resource for Indigenous, non-Indigenous and New Canadians wanting to upgrade their skills to benefit them in life, a career, training or education.
Learners attend PNLP for many reasons. Some people want to complete their Grade 12 or their GED (a credential that says that you have grade 12 level knowledge even without a diploma), or they have their sights set on attending college or university.
Learners can take courses at their own pace, including GED test preparation. People also work on developing their employment readiness – skills that will prepare them for work. Apprenticeship preparation and digital skills training and support is also available.
All courses at PNLP are taught by instructors who start by helping each learner set individual goals. Instructors then provide whatever training and support is needed by each person. It is really customized training.
PNLP also supports people in overcoming barriers so that they can reach the goals they set. “We’ve had students who struggle with poverty, live with emotional or physical trauma, mental health challenges or are in drug addiction recovery or suffer from addictions. Showing them that there’s love and respect at PNLP is very important to us. We support people going through personal challenges through the Seven Grandfather Teachings. Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth can definitely provide a clear path forward.”
“A key focus for us is to get Indigenous learners into a position where they can find work, prepare for learning or gain confidence in their lives.” says Gilbert. “An education leads to healthier and more productive lives.” “We understand the challenges people face; our goal is to support them each step of the way. As they go through our program, we see their confidence build.” says Gilbert. He’s seen firsthand the successes of learners who have worked so hard to accomplish their education and career goals.
He recalls one student who had a difficult time reaching her goal. The student met with a PNLP instructor who worked closely with her to develop a learning plan. Within a short time, she reached her Level 3—the highest skill level at PNLP. She moved on to Fleming Skills on Demand – Work and Academic Upgrading and then she completed a healthcare program.
“For that learner, getting to that point was a huge success, and it was great that PNLP could help get her there,” says Gilbert.
His other favourite story is of a learner who approached PNLP because she wanted to apply to the Fleming College Firefighter program. Her only roadblock, she didn’t have Grade 12 C Math and needed assistance.
“Our instructor worked one-on-one with this student. She applied herself with such dedication and did her math work every single day. What could have taken her two years to complete, she did successfully in six months and got accepted into the Firefighting course at Fleming College. It was an incredibly proud moment for her—and for us!” says Gilbert.
PNLP also works with community partners, including Curve Lake Business Employment Resource Centre to help Curve Lake members develop skills for employment.
Gilbert enjoys connecting with other agencies and welcomes referrals. “We are proud of the work we do and are happy that PNLP is really becoming known throughout Peterborough and County. The increase recognition and referrals confirm that we are really offering something beneficial in the community.”
“We’re getting ourselves out there and letting people know who we are and what we’re doing,” says Gilbert. “There’s more emphasis on preserving Indigenous culture and more focus on the Seven Grandfather Teachings. We also attend events on reserves and in the community. We present at job fairs and host employment readiness workshops to let people know what we do.”
“We have a great relationship with our community partners and work closely with other organizations, making referrals so that each learner is supported in all aspects of their lives.”
Visit the Kawartha Now for an article highlighting the work the Peterborough Native Learning Program does in the community.
Peterborough Native Learning Program is located in Peterborough, Curve Lake and Lakefield.
To make it effortless for you, we’ve included a Table of Contents with links that will take you to the specific county and service you’re looking for.
These social media sites provide great options to stay connected with others and to get up-to-date information on current programs, training information and resources.
LOCS supports LBS organizations in the counties of City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton, Hastings, Northumberland and Peterborough. We also work closely with employment service partners in each of these five counties and a wide range of other community services. Social Media is a great way to share current program and training information as well as resources.
With her sights set on a specific job, Carrie boosted her computer skills with an Adult Training Network certificate to improve her prospects.
Carrie worked closely with the instructors at Cobourg’s Adult Training Network to upgrade her computer skills—the golden ticket to landing the job she really wanted.
For years, Carrie, had been working as a cleaner after being a stay-at-home mom for a decade. She also landed a part-time gig helping with special events for the Town of Cobourg—a job she says built her experience for future roles.
But it was when she showed interest in applying for fulltime roles that Carrie realized her lack of computer certificate was a barrier. While she was confident in how to navigate the basics of Microsoft Office applications, she couldn’t prove it without certification.
“I knew part-time jobs and working weekends was not what I wanted for the rest of my life. It also didn’t give me as much professional or financial freedom as I was looking for. I needed better options,” said Carrie.
The mother of four signed up for an online computer class after deciding she needed to upgrade the technical skills she already had. However, she said adapting to the digital format of the tutorials was not ideal. “The format didn’t work for me because I prefer one-on-one assistance with an instructor to help me work through a problem,” she said.
With COVID-19 bringing layoffs, closures and lots of uncertainty, Carrie was fortunate to return as a Town employee doing manual labour jobs.
But as luck would have it, Carrie spotted a receptionist position to cover a maternity leave for approximately eight months.
“I reached out to the manager of that role to say that I was really interested in the job, and that it would be a great fit for me. It’s what I want to do instead of cleaning,” said Carrie.
Carrie had to show she was familiar with the technology required for the receptionist role. Having it would mean giving herself a competitive advantage.
“At that time, I didn’t have the time or the money to go back to school. I had to find the quickest way of upgrading my computer skills because the job I wanted was open to applicants.”
Carrie was uncertain about her next move until a friend suggested she pay a visit to the Adult Training Network (ATN).
The Adult Training Network is an adult learning centre that helps individuals 19 years of age and older reach their goals. The organization is considered a key resource for adults wanting to upgrade their essential skills to benefit them in their life, career, or training and education.
Thanks to funding from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development ATN’s learning and skills programs are provided for free to eligible adults.
ATN helps learners with skills upgrading to prepare for post-secondary studies, apprenticeships and employment. ATN also supports people working on secondary school credits towards earning their high school diploma. They also offer specialized programs such as computer training, financial skills and budgeting, customer service skills, and more.
Carrie was nervous about getting her skills assessed by the ATN instructors, Katie Gotthelf and Jackie Goddard, but her determination to make the receptionist job a reality fueled her motivation to move forward with what ATN had to offer.
“Jackie tested me to see what I knew, where I needed help and what I could improve. The learning plan she customized specifically for me was geared towards this job that I was going for,” said Carrie.
During the course of the program, Carrie worked one-on-one with Katie and Jackie doing a deep dive into Microsoft Office programs, focusing on how to write business letters and create a mail merge, among other administrative-related tasks. When Carrie wasn’t working, she was hitting the books hard, completing every piece of homework the instructors gave to her.
The program allowed her to make headway independently and on her schedule. The smaller classroom size was also an advantage, said Carrie, allowing her to receive more individualized attention and interact closely with Katie and Jackie.
“I always thought my skills were good, but I started to believe that maybe I couldn’t do this. But then Katie and Jackie would hand me work and I’d complete it and they would say, ‘see you can do it!’. “Katie and Jackie helped me in areas where I needed to do better,” Carrie said.
Months later, having successfully completed the program, Carrie earned her certification. Her upgraded skills in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint boosted her resume to get the job she wanted. She now works for the Town covering the receptionist’s maternity leave.
For Carrie, pursuing her goals with persistence and determination has paid off. Now she’s the person others can go to for answers on how to use the computer software that makes the office run.
“It does make you feel good to be able to take what you have learned and put it to use like that.”
Carrie credits her ATN instructors for helping her escape any doubt in the true spirit of teaching.
“The instructors genuinely rooted for me and were key in helping me complete my learning plan. They made a real effort to make learning interesting and they were confident in my abilities.”
Carrie encourages anyone interested in advancing their education or skills to explore ATN as a viable option.
“I had the perception that the Adult Training Network was for young kids who dropped out of high school or needed extra help. I wasn’t aware that they offered adult training. If you’re interested in upgrading your education, go talk with the instructors there. I get it, as adults we may feel embarrassed to go back to school, but ATN treats you with respect and gives you the confidence to believe that you can do anything.”
Adult Training Network is located in Cobourg but serves all of Northumberland County. The ATN is co-located at the Centre for Individual Studies on D’Arcy Street. They have a satellite location in Campbellford. ATN also has a centre in Peterborough. Services are available online and face-to-face.
Discover your strengths and improve your skills by working with the team at ATN.
Are you interested in registering as an apprentice but you think you might need a math refresher?
Do you have a plan but want to gauge your current skill level first?
Do you want to work toward your Grade 12 diploma?
Is college your next step but you need to brush up on a few skills first?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, one of our training organizations can help.
What you can expect from programs offering adult training and skills development
1. Needs: We can help you list your current strengths. We can also help you decide what you need to work on to get you where you want to go.
2. Plan: We then help you develop a plan. Your plan will highlight the steps that will help you reach your goal. This may include things such as credit courses, computer skills, email, business writing, teamwork, goal setting, workplace skills, customer service, point-of-sale, financial skills, reading, communication, biology, chemistry or apprenticeship math.
3. Support: You will be supported at every step. There is always someone available to help. Our goal is to help you reach your goal.
Training and Workshops
In addition to one-to-one training we also offer group training and workshops. We can also offer training at a workplace if there is a group of employees interested in the same topic.
Right now we offer online training that is fully supported. We are also available by phone. Tutors are available to help as well. When possible we can offer in person training.
Whether your plan is finding work, a new job, an apprenticeship or completing secondary school or post-secondary school credits, adult training organizations can help.
To decide if adult training and skills development can help you, contact one of the programs in your area. Visit our Programs page and select your region from the list of Five Counties to find a list of available programs.
You can also contact Carrie Wakeford at for more information.
This Employment Ontario service is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario and through the Canada-Ontario Job Fund Agreement.