News release

Actions to Accelerate Skilled Trades Growth

Premier's Office
Labour, Skills and Immigration

Actions to recruit, retain and train more people in the skilled trades will help homes, hospitals and roads in Nova Scotia get built faster.

The government will accelerate growth in the skilled trades and modernize the entire apprenticeship and trades qualification system to meet the needs of a growing province.

The actions announced by Premier Tim Houston today, October 19, will add up to 5,000 more new apprentices to the system in the next three years, increase the number of journeypersons and trades qualifiers by 1,000 a year and increase the retention rate of apprentices from 43 per cent to 60 per cent – one of the highest in the country – within five years. It builds on the innovative work that has already been happening with the More Opportunity for Skilled Trades (MOST) program and apprenticeship program, including previous changes to the apprenticeship ratios.

“This is a very big day for the future of the Nova Scotia workforce. Nova Scotia is a growing province, and we need even more skilled trades workers to build our homes, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure projects important to Nova Scotians,” said Premier Houston. “We are willing to make bold decisions and substantial changes to the status quo to become the skilled trades leader in Canada.”

The Province is changing the ratios to increase the number of apprentices training on job sites and launching a new targeted immigration stream, both of which will help more people enter Nova Scotia’s skilled trades workforce faster.

The standard ratio is being increased from one journeyperson per two apprentices to one journeyperson per three apprentices in most trades. The Province is also excluding final level apprentices from ratios in all trades.

The Critical Construction Worker Pilot, a new stream of Nova Scotia’s Provincial Nominee Program, includes 21 in-demand occupations in the construction sector, largely focused on the residential building trades. It will broaden the pool of skilled workers companies need and recognize valuable industry experience for these occupations. It does not require a high school diploma, which other streams do.

The actions also include:

  • launching targeted recruitment strategies to make it easier to enter the skilled trades
  • building programs, incentives and personalized supports to enter the skilled trades
  • putting individualized learning programs in place to support retention
  • building capacity to mentor and train more apprentices
  • implementing faster skilled trades training at both the pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship stages
  • changing the way government connects and responds to industry
  • becoming a skilled trades leader in Canada.

These actions will cost about $100 million over three years.


“While the number of apprentices in Nova Scotia continues to grow each year, the labour market need for skilled trades professionals is outpacing our ability to train them. We are working with our partners to develop creative, innovative solutions to meet their needs and become a skilled trades leader in Canada.”

– Jill Balser, Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration

“Accessibility is critical to NSCC’s mission – bringing post-secondary education and training opportunities to communities across our province to help grow and diversify the workforce. Needs within the trades sector have risen dramatically in recent years – a situation that requires all hands on deck. Today’s significant investment in programming and financial incentives by the Province will open doors and support those under-represented in the trades sector as we quickly and collectively move to address the skilled labour shortage.”

– Don Bureaux, President, Nova Scotia Community College

“With our current population growth, housing of all forms is needed. To do that, we need to be creative and find new ways of attracting and retaining our workforce. CANS is pleased to see the Province take action to reduce the skilled trades shortage in Nova Scotia.”

– Duncan Williams, President and CEO, Construction Association of Nova Scotia

“Our industry wants to build homes and housing as fast as possible for Nova Scotians, but we simply need more skilled people to do it. This new stream and actions will expedite these builds and we are very pleased to see it come to fruition.”

– Crystal Ingram, Executive Officer, Canadian Home Builders’ Association - Nova Scotia

Quick Facts:

  • this work builds on previous initiatives to attract, train and retain more skilled tradespeople, including the More Opportunity for Skilled Trades tax rebate program, marketing efforts and immigration streams
  • 1,844 new apprentices were registered and began their training in skilled trades in 2022
  • since 2014, the number of apprentices has increased by 31 per cent (5,923 apprentices in 2014-15 compared with 7,772 apprentices in 2022-23)

Additional Resources:

Fact sheet – Actions for Growing the Skilled Trades:

Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency:

Critical Construction Worker stream: