No job is 100 percent secure. Despite that, some fields of work have brighter outlooks than others.

If you were laid off after 2004, you might qualify for a range of special programs and financial assistance that help you learn the skills you need to start a promising second career. Even if you are still employed but want to upgrade your skills for a better position, there are programs in Canada to help.

What Is a Second Career?

Getting laid off could be an excellent opportunity for you to take your occupation in a new direction. If your work experience is in a field that has limited job opportunities, you can learn new skills that will qualify you for careers that are in-demand in Canada.

When you target your learning to skills that match well-paying positions with a large number of job openings in your area, you can earn higher pay than before and experience greater job security going forward.

Available Development Services

Development services exist in Canada to boost employment rates. They also help to fill positions in in-demand industries that are experiencing worker shortages.

With these programs, you can receive financial assistance to go back to school for skills training and receive other forms of second-career support. These programs are available to workers with no advanced training or education or those who have multiple advanced degrees.

Training institutions that the Canadian government considers suitable for skills training include Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology and Private Career Colleges. In order to receive financial assistance, the program you choose must provide the most cost-effective route to re-employment.

Several second-career development programs exist throughout the provinces and territories. For instance, you could be eligible for Ontario’s Second Career program if you:

  • Are currently unemployed;
  • Were laid off on or after January 1, 2005;
  • Are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or meet specific requirements as a convention refugee claimant, and;
  • Can show that the skills training you’re seeking is in high demand locally or somewhere in Ontario, and;
  • Are a resident of Ontario (but you don’t have to have been laid off from a job in Ontario).

You can also qualify if your employment contract ended or you left work because of medical reasons or as part of maternal or parental leave.

The Second Career program considers you unemployed if you:

  • Work fewer than 20 hours a week;
  • Are working a low-skilled interim job to make ends meet after being laid off, or;
  • You’ve received a salary continuance or severance pay.

There are similar second career programs in other regions, including the provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia and the Yukon territory.

Funding and Grants

You could be eligible to receive financial assistance while you are training for a second career. To qualify, you’ll need to undergo a financial needs assessment that considers your income level and expenses.


In Manitoba, the Canada-Manitoba Job Grant takes a different approach by targeting people who are still employed. As such, it provides employers with up to $10,000 per worker. This covers the cost of skills training, so the worker can learn the skills needed to qualify for an open role within the company.


Programs available in the Yukon territory can assist with a range of second-career options, including self-employment opportunities.

British Columbia

Mature workers in British Columbia can benefit from programs like the:

  • Targeted Initiative for Older Workers: Strives to increase the re-employment rates for laid-off workers over the age of 55.
  • Skills Training for Employment: Provides skills training and employment support for individuals in need.

The training assistance is available for a huge variety of high-demand occupations — ranging from receptionists to family physicians. The list is so extensive that you’re sure to find a second career that you’ll be enthusiastic about getting into.


With the Second Career program in Ontario, the funds you receive can cover:

  • All or part of your tuition costs;
  • Your basic living expenses while you study like your rent, food, and utilities, and;
  • Expenses related to transportation, dependent care, and disability needs.

The program determines the amount of assistance on a case-by-case basis. So, it will differ from person to person. The maximum amount of assistance for the Ontario program is $28,000.

Costs that are ineligible for coverage by the Second Career program include:

  • Alcohol;
  • Cigarettes;
  • Clothing;
  • Cable TV;
  • Credit card repayment;
  • Gym memberships;
  • Pet supplies, and;
  • Personal grooming.

Use Second Career Programs to Take the Next Steps for Your Future

If you were laid off in Canada or are working in a job that you feel is going nowhere, you could be at the turning point to a bright future. You’ll be on your way to a better job with second career programs that offer a range of assistance and support in getting the in-demand skills you need.