There are numerous types of training programs available to refugee newcomers, some of which are specifically tailored for their circumstances and others of which are targeted to all newcomers, or to all Canadians.

Language Training

Many of the training programs offered to newcomers are primarily focused on language and communication skills. These include Enhanced Language Training (ELT), Occupation-specific language training (OSLT), and Specialized Language Training (SLT). For a more in-depth description of these types of programs, see our separate post, Employment-Related Language Training.

Bridge Training

We also have a separate post on Bridging Programs. Bridge training programs in Ontario are designed to offer “fast access to training and support” so that an internationally-trained, professional newcomer can get a licence or certificate and find employment. The newcomer must usually have a post-secondary certificate or degree from outside Canada and have international work experience in a profession or trade. The minimum CLB English language requirement varies between CLB 5 and CLB 8. These programs are designed to “bridge” a newcomer’s international training, education and experience with what is needed to practice in Ontario. They offer:

  • an assessment of education and skills;
  • clinical or job placements to help get Canadian workplace experience;
  • skills or academic training;
  • licence or certification exam preparation;
  • language training related to the profession or trade; and
  • learning plans to see if more training is needed.

Apprenticeships for skilled trades and NeCTAR program for newcomers

Trades in Ontario are regulated by the Ontario College of Trades. There are more than 140 designated trades. A searchable database is available to search and filter trades-related job profiles to see what is in demand, how much can be earned, and education requirements. In Ontario the following trades require apprenticeship training or a Certificate of Qualification:

  • Automotive service technicians, truck and bus mechanics and mechanical repairers;
    • Alignment and Brakes Technician
    • Automotive Electronic Accessory Technician
    • Automotive Service Technician
    • Fuel and Electrical Systems Technician
    • Motorcycle Technician
    • Transmission Technician
    • Truck and Coach Technician
    • Truck-Trailer Service Technician
  • Crane operators;
    • Hoisting Engineer – Mobile Crane Operator, Branch 1
    • Hoisting Engineer – Mobile Crane Operator, Branch 2
    • Hoisting Engineer – Tower Crane Operator
  • Electricians (except industrial and power system);
    • Electrician – Construction and Maintenance
    • Electrician – Domestic and Rural
  • Hairstylists and barbers;
  • Heating, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics;
    • Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic
    • Residential Air Conditioning Systems Mechanic
  • Motor vehicle body repairers;
    • Autobody and Collision Damage Repairer, Branch 1
    • Autobody Repairer, Branch 2
  • Motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle and other related mechanics;
  • Plumbers;
  • Sheet metal workers;
    • Residential (Low Rise) Sheet Metal Installer
  • Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers.
    • Sprinkler and Fire Protection Installer
    • Steamfitter

In 2019, the Ontario government announced its intention to relax the licensing requirements for some trades and changes, started in the summer of that year, are expected to continue in 2020.

Under a formal apprenticeship, an individual takes classes and learns a trade by working under the direction of experienced workers, while getting paid for doing so. It takes between two and five years to complete an apprenticeship. Upon completion, a Certificate of Apprenticeship provides a step toward the next level of certification, leading to better paying jobs.”

The minimum education required for an apprenticeship in Ontario is Grade 12 or, in some cases, only Grade 10.

Employment services and settlement agencies have access to a website and program called “NeCTAR” (Newcomers Connecting to Trades Apprenticeship Resources). NeCTAR is intended to provide information and services to internationally-trained individuals seeking apprenticeship or employment in the skilled trades in Ontario.

NeCTAR offers a reference guide; materials to be provided to internationally-trained tradespeople; and a resource kit with modules that are available through the COSTI website, which include:

  • An overview of the skilled trades and how the trades apprenticeship system works.
  • Becoming a Certified Tradesperson in Ontario, describes certification and apprenticeship – the two pathways an individual with international training can take to practice a skilled trade.
  • “Pathways to Practice” recommendations relating to four skilled trades (Hairstylist, Automotive Service Technician, Construction Maintenance Electrician and Industrial Millwright);
  • The Role of Unions.
  • Women in the Trades.
  • Trade-Specific Self-Assessment Tools to assist internationally trained individuals assess how closely their training and experience match the training standards for their trade in Ontario.
  • Trade-specific fact sheets for internationally trained individuals to quickly access information about apprenticeship or certification in their trade.
  • Websites to link both internationally trained individuals and service providers to streamlined information and resources.
  • Glossary of trade terminology.

The level of English proficiency required to enter an apprenticeship varies by program. At least CLB 5 may be required or recommended for speaking and listening and CLB 4 for reading and writing.

To bypass the need for an apprenticeship in Ontario for any of the compulsory trades, newcomers with international trade experience must pass a Trade Equivalency Assessment, provided by the Ontario College of Trades. Even with this in hand, newcomers may still have to pass an exam, in order to obtain a required Certificate of Qualification in one of these trades. For these newcomers who have sufficient language proficiency to qualify, a bridging program may be of great help toward obtaining certification.


For a newcomer with international training and experience, obtaining qualification to practice in Ontario in professions, such as engineering, architecture, medicine, and pharmacy, is extremely challenging, even for native-English speakers. Fortunately, there are bridging programs in these fields, as well, which can assist in preparing for certification or the pursuit of alternative careers which build on the international education and training.

Shorter training programs for newcomers

A number of organizations provide newcomers with shorter skills training programs for various occupations, in some cases focused exclusively on refugee newcomers. The skills training may be combined with English instruction and communication skills related to the specific type of employment.

Organizations in the GTA providing such programs include:

  • ACCES Employment
  • Catholic Family Services of Peel-Dufferin
  • CPAC
  • CultureLink
  • Depanneur
  • Food Processing Skills Canada
  • Hospitality Workers Training Centre
  • Jumpstart (RCJP)
  • JVS Toronto
  • Livelihood Project
  • Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre
  • Refugee Career Jumpstart Project
  • Ritz-Carlton Hotel
  • Skills for Change
  • TNO (The Neighbourhood Organization)
  • Toronto District School Board (TDSB)
  • YWCA

These programs cover fields such as:

  • Bricklaying
  • Cashier
  • Catering
  • Child minding
  • Computer coding
  • Construction
  • Customer service
  • Electrician
  • Entrepreneurship
  • First Aid CPR/AED
  • Food handling
  • Food preparation
  • Forklift Truck Operation
  • Hairstyling
  • Hazardous materials handling
  • Hospitality service
  • Home Child Care
  • Retail cashier
  • Security Guard Training
  • Sewing
  • Working at heights

The English proficiency requirement for these programs varies from CLB 2 to CLB 6.

In addition, see out separate posts on programs for women and Entrepreneurship – Starting a business.

Ontario Works Training Programs

Any individual enrolled in Ontario Works in Ontario, including refugee newcomers, may qualify to take an 8 to 26 week, skill training or employment program to learn new skills, explore careers, prepare for employment or learn about self-employment. Note, however, that to be eligible to qualify for Ontario Works, the individual must be in “financial need”. For refugee newcomers, this means no longer receiving financial assistance from the federal government, under the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP), or from private sponsors.

Employment programs and skill training courses offered through Ontario Works fall within four categories. The training programs are delivered through a range of third party organizations.

  • Employment Essentials programs help prepare for employment.
  • Occupation-Specific Skill Training include job-specific skill training.
  • Sector-Focused Career Development programs explore careers and offer essential skills development.
  • Self-Employment Development programs develop knowledge to run your own business.

Ontario Works-sponsored training programs are not necessarily tailored to newcomers, whose first language is other than English.

Loans and bursaries for newcomers to cover training expense

In addition to bursaries that may be available to pay the cost of eligible bridging programs (as described in our post on bridging programs), there are organizations that make loans of up to $15,000 on very favourable terms to cover licensing or training expenses for newcomer tradespeople, skilled workers and professionals. See our post, Loans for newcomers to cover licensing and training. Windmill Microlending, ACCESS Community Capital Fund, and The Centre for Education and Training are non-profit organizations making such loans within the GTA. Windmill Microlending has even more favourable loan provisions for refugee newcomers.

Current programs in our database

Appended below is a list of training programs offered to newcomers in various occupations, including language-focused and bridging programs. The number of programs included in this list will vary with the time of year. Details and dates are often not available 12 months in advance. Programs which have just recently started, for example, are dropped from the list once they have started, until we have information on the next instances of them being offered.

See also the Programs & Events section of our website, where filters can be used to narrow results by type of training program, sector, location, and minimum CLB level.