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 .
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.
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.
In this CBC article and podcast the importance of literacy is highlighted in terms of our recovery from the impact of the pandemic. “Nearly half of Canada’s population has a big roadblock ahead of them when it comes to post-pandemic economic recovery — and it’s not the novel coronavirus but a fundamental set of skills for daily life.”
The article points out that “it’s important to recognize that low literacy doesn’t mean a lack of skills.” (Monica Das) This is such an important point!
This article includes a great story of someone who left a 30 year career in truck driving. “At the age of 48, Piché decided to go back to school to become a social worker after overcoming significant setbacks in his life — including mental illness and addiction.”
The support available through LBS programs is critical. It’s important to note that we all get a bit rusty. “In short, literacy is not like riding a bike. While Canadians tend to leave the high school level with these skills, it takes practice to retain them.”
Workers with lower levels of education have been among the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Labour Market Information Council. Jobs requiring high school or on-the-job training saw the greatest drop in employment. Except for occupations that require university credentials, employment levels in November 2020 were still below their pre-pandemic level. Volatile Employment in 2020 for Jobs With Lower Educational Requirements
What’s more, nearly half of Canada’s population struggle with literacy which has a significant impact on the economy. (CBC) “Generally speaking, we’re below average compared to other OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries in terms of adult literacy, numeracy skills,” said Michael Burt, an economist with the Conference Board of Canada.
For years literacy has been the base for building a successful work life. With the increased need for digital literacy and skilled workers, this need just continues to grow. As the skills required for employment change, literacy is becoming even more important for finding and keeping a job.
If you would like more information about adult training programs in the LOCS region, including City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton, Hastings, Northumberland, and Peterborough, visit our programs page or contact Carrie at .
Literacy Programs work with Employment Services to help people reach their employment goals
Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) organizations and Employment Services (ES) often work together to help individuals reach their goal of a new position, a new career or an apprenticeship.
LBS supports people who are working. Many people reach out to LBS services so that they can gain the skills they need to keep their current position, progress in their current company, or create more options for other types of employment.
In 2019-2020, 24% of people in LBS programs were employed.
Literacy Matters at Work
The relationship between LBS and Employment Services is important. Studies show that there’s a clear connection between successful employment and literacy skills. In a report from Community Literacy of Ontario called ‘Why Literacy Matters” many statistics point to the need for literacy to support success at work.
“Canadians with low literacy skills are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than those with higher level literacy skills.”
“In 2016, only 55% of Canadians aged 25- 64 who did not complete high school were employed. Conversely, the employment rate was 82% for those who had obtained a college or university credential.”
“Research has also found that approximately 45% of Canadians in precarious work have not attained an educational credential beyond a high-school diploma.”
Employment – the #1 Goal
In 2019-2020, 93% of the people in LBS programs in the Literacy Ontario Central South (LOCS) region said that their goal was employment, in either the short or long term. An LBS program offers adults opportunities to advance their reading, writing, math, computer and other skills needed to achieve their goals of employment or an apprenticeship. Also those who have a goal of secondary school or post-secondary education are usually hoping to increase their work options. More recently, people affected by the pandemic have experienced job loss or have a desire to change careers.
People often think that literacy programs only help people with reading and writing or gaining academic credentials, however, LBS also supports job seekers who want to develop their workplace skills. This could be things like apprenticeship math, customer service, computer skills, software such as QuickBooks or MS Office. Computer skills are often called digital literacy and can include many things such as learning to use Zoom or completing online forms.
LBS also supports individuals in developing skills that are often called ‘soft skills’; these are the skills that employers say are a top priority. Soft skills include things like communication, problem solving, teamwork and time management.
LBS programs also work with employers to develop specific training and support for the people on their team. This might be computer skills, customer service or soft skills.
LBS programs can help—at no cost.
Partnerships between Literacy and Employment Services
LBS organizations in the LOCS region have a long history of partnering with Employment Services to deliver workplace programs to help learners find and retain work.
A few of the many examples from the Literacy Ontario Central South Region:
John Howard Society (JHS) and Fleming Academic Upgrading (AU) in Haliburton offer the STRIVE program working in partnership with Fleming Crew. JHS and AU have also worked with in partnership with VCCS in City of Kawartha Lakes on several programs including a soft skills program called Essential Skills Plus. LOCS has supported VCCS in their portfolio training and a competency based training for employers. TVLA has worked with Agilec to offer a Point-of-Sale and Customer Service in retail training program. Fleming AU and the Adult Learning Network is partnering with Durham College Employment Services to offer computer skills. LOCS has worked in partnership with EARN in Northumberland and TVLA in Peterborough to create a Online Point-of-Sale program. Community Learning Alternatives works with META vocational Services on projects including essential skills and computer training. They have also worked with Prince Edward Learning Centre to offer Hospitality training.
Another recent example includes a partnership between the three LBS sectors (Community-based, College, and School Board) with Employment Services to design an introduction to Zoom course to help participants learn how to use the popular web-video conferencing software.
LBS organizations are always willing to work with Employment Services to support individual clients and learners as they work toward achieving their goals.
Through referrals, partnerships and ongoing communication, LBS and Employment Services continue to work together to support job seekers in the LOCS region.
If you would like to learn more about Literacy programs in the LOCS region, including City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton, Hastings, Northumberland, and Peterborough, visit our programs page or contact Carrie at .
Working together to find opportunities and solutions
Ongoing discussions in our community help us identify gaps, needs and opportunities. Solutions are often found through group discussions, even when the discussions happen on Zoom.
This year, we have continued to meet to discuss ways to support adults in our region. This includes adult training and skills development, employment supports as well as other community services including financial and mental health supports.
Literacy Ontario Central South (LOCS) leads quarterly meetings called Literacy Service Plans or (LSPs) in the LOCS regions including Haliburton, City of Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough, Northumberland and Hastings. Adult training providers, employment service providers as well as other community partners all come together to share updates, introduce new programs and brainstorm solutions to expand services and supports in our community.
LOCS is responsible for documenting these discussions, and then once a year, we write a report that draws on what we have learned. We also gather statistics from training and employment service providers and Workforce Boards. With this information we summarize the strengths, gaps and needs in each of the five communities in the LOCS region. These reports are called Literacy Service Plans. These reports are then used to work with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to set goals for the following year.
In the fall of 2020 the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) interviewed Carrie Wakeford, Executive Director of Literacy Ontario Central South (LOCS) and Stacey McQuoid a LOCS Board Member and Program Coordinator at the Trenton office of Community Learning Alternatives (CLA), to learn how LBS organizations in the region came together to support each other during the pandemic.
We continue to offer support for learners and volunteers and we continue to connect with our community partners. We support and learn from each other as we move programs online. We meet often to share creative ideas for addressing challenges created by COVID-19. We try to ask “What can we do” rather than focusing on what we can’t do!