More people are eyeing the trades as a career.

The province says new apprenticeship registrations are up 24 per cent over last year.

Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development Minister Monte McNaughton says many of them were women.

" Women are joining the industry at an even higher rate, with an increase of nearly 30%, bringing us to over 91,000 active apprentices in total, says McNaughton.

There are 27,300 new registered apprentices, over 5000 more than last year.

McNaughton attributes the interest to the provincial investments made.

He notes one billion dollars was earmarked over three years to simplify the skilled trade system, reduce the stigma, and make it easier for young people to consider a career in the industry.

The province also launched Skilled Trades Ontario to oversee apprenticeship training and certification.

Career fairs launched last fall, including one in Thunder Bay, to promote the trades to high school students.

"Nearly 13,000 students, parents and family members attended our interactive fairs across five cities in ten days. This fall, I'm pleased to announce that our government will also be expanding the Fairs for students in grades seven to twelve to even more cities," says McNaughton.

The push for more young people into the skilled trades comes as the industry faces a severe shortage.

The province identifies 1.2 million workers, but one in three is aged 55 or older and nearing retirement.

There were recently nearly 285,000 job vacancies, with close to one in five job openings projected to be in skilled trades by 2026.