What is Better Jobs Ontario Program?

Nov 08, 2023

Better Jobs Ontario (BJO), previously known as Second Career, is a provincially funded program through the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development, which helps individuals who are unemployed train for occupations in Ontario that are in high-demand. Such programs must be 52 weeks or less in duration to ensure that the job seeker gets back to work quickly (Government of Ontario, 2023). 

Financial Assistance

The program offers up to $28,000 in financial assistance to eligible candidates. This sum of money can cover expenses such as “a basic living allowance of up to $500 per week, books, other instructional costs such as student fees and supplies, transportation, and tuition” (Government of Ontario, 2023). 

Eligibility Criteria

In order to qualify, an applicant must either be part of a “Laid-Off Stream” or a “Low-Income Stream”. The former results from situations where the business has been shut down, or when there is a lack of work. As well as, if an employee’s contract has expired; if the individual left work due to medical reasons, or if they were laid off and later became self-employed to make ends meet. 

Alternatively, the latter refers to individuals who either quit or were fired from their positions, have been unemployed for at least six months, or have no employment history at all. They must also have a combined household income just at, or below the LICO (Low Income Cut Off) limit, and have been out of high school for at least two years. 

In both instances, the individuals must be unemployed, and actively searching for employment. Better Jobs Ontario is for Ontarians who cannot get a job with their current skill set, and a robust job search helps demonstrate this. 

Program Suitability

Upon meeting the eligibility criteria, the government will also check if the program is a suitable option for candidates. To determine this, individuals will be assessed through seven different categories: Active Job Search, Duration of Unemployment, Educational Attainment, In-Demand Occupational Requirements, Occupational Experience, Type of Training, and Work History (Government of Ontario, 2023). 

These categories are listed in a chart, with a certain number of points allocated per section. In order to pass the suitability test, persons must meet a score of 16 or higher. But, what happens if that score isn’t achieved? There is another available stream known as the “Fee Payer” stream, in which the applicant would be responsible for paying for their own tuition and related educational costs, but they may receive help with the cost of basic living expenses while they attend school. Additionally, if they are receiving Employment Insurance (EI) they would be allowed to keep it while attending an academic institution, full-time.  

Financial Assessment

This brings us to the financial assessment. It is important to note that by applying for this program, candidates agree to having their household income assessed, which will determine how much financial assistance will be provided for their application. In addition, if any individual experiences a change in their financial situation, they have a legal responsibility to inform the Ministry of these changes. 

Once the individual passes the eligibility, suitability, and financial assessment, they are ready to submit their documents to the Ministry. A candidate will need to submit a resume, their labour market research, provide multiple job postings that are currently being advertised for the new career they wish to pursue, show their job search records, and submit the official Better Jobs Ontario application (Centre for Skills Development, 2023). 

To learn more about Better Jobs Ontario, please visit the Centre for Skills’ workshop page to sign up for one of our live information sessions, or to watch a recorded one. You can also book an appointment to speak one-on-one with an Employment Specialists about your specific situation and employment goals.