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#FillTheToolbox engagement and fundraising campaign launched by Skills Ontario

Angela Gismondi
#FillTheToolbox engagement and fundraising campaign launched by Skills Ontario

The goal of the #FillTheToolbox campaign is to give young people in Ontario the tools to learn about career opportunities in the skilled trades and technologies, says Ian Howcroft, CEO of Skills Ontario.

Skills Ontario launched the engagement campaign recently to raise funds and awareness. The campaign coincides with the 30th anniversary of Skills Ontario.

“This is our 30th anniversary so we are doing certain things throughout the year to celebrate,” said Howcroft.

“We’ve been asked by many people over the years and recently how can they help, how can they contribute and we have our major partners and sponsors but we have never really created something where people could get engaged with us to make a contribution, receive a charitable donation and we would use those funds to help us deliver programs, provide scholarships and support the work that we’re doing that allows us to promote skilled trades and technology careers to young people.”

While there is no financial goal, the campaign aims to earn support from 240 donors. The Skills Ontario website features a digital toolbox which starts empty and each donation helps to fill it with tools. Every thirtieth donation, no matter what the amount, officially unlocks one tool and places it in the toolbox. There are eight tools in total in every toolbox. Donors who contribute will be listed on the website.

“If someone makes a contribution it goes towards getting a virtual tool in the tool box and when the tool box is full, we move onto the next tool box,” explained Howcroft. “We are doing it as a fundraising opportunity but we are also doing it to build more awareness around what we’re doing and hopefully have people sign up with us to get engaged, attend our programs and events, become a volunteer, work at our summer camp or major competition or find other ways they want to get involved.”

The campaign targets small businesses and parents in particular, but also other groups that Skills Ontario may not have engaged with over the years.

“We want to engage as many businesses as we can, sign memorandums of understanding with certain business organizations and to get the general public more aware of the importance skilled trades and to deal with the negative stigma around that and to better promote a more positive image around the skilled trades,” said Howcroft.

“We hear that over and over again that parents don’t want their children go through to become a skilled tradesperson or they don’t think about that, they encourage them to go to university. This is just one small way that we are taking to build awareness, demonstrate the value of the skilled trade and technology careers and to get as many people, as many parents and as many businesses engaged with what we’re doing as possible.”

The campaign will also help shed light on the challenges in the industry, Howcroft said.

“Businesses say the number one issue and challenge they are dealing with is they can’t find the talent, they can’t find the skills that they need so this helps us fill their needs, it helps young people find out about opportunities they might not have been aware of, rewarding successful careers… It’s not just to promote Skills Ontario, it’s to promote what it is that we’re doing, what we’re all about which is to raise the profile and help us deal with negativity that most people still have when they do think about the skilled trades.”

The campaign will end on the last day of the 2020 Skills Ontario Competition, May 6, 2020.

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