Arborist Ground Worker Training Program (Skills Development Fund)

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Take Your Love for Trees to the Next Level

Love trees? The Arborist Ground Worker Training Program provides job seekers with industry training that enhances productivity, safety, and efficiency while enhancing communication, problem-solving and critical thinking skills — all in a practical learning environment that mimics the workplace.

Program Details

The Arborist Ground Worker Training Program is twelve weeks long with two separate sessions being run in two different cities. All graduates obtain the Arborist Ground Worker Qualification and receive post-employment support services for one year following the program. Participants typically find employment before the program’s completion through their work placement.

In 2023-2024, training will take place in the cities of Ottawa and Toronto, Ontario. Applications for the program in both cities will open in September 2023.

Training includes hands-on, workplace-based technical and soft skills development in the following areas:

  • Skills and tools of the trade
  • Health and safety training
  • Science of Arboriculture
  • Field operations and practices
  • Résumé writing and interview prep
  • Career planning
  • Paid industry work placement


Full-time hours are required (30-40 hours per week). The program runs Monday to Friday, and hours vary between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. for the duration of the training. A course schedule will be provided to participants before training starts.


Training for the 2023-2024 season will be offered in two different locations: Ottawa and Toronto, Ontario. See below for the program timeline in each city. Jobs and paid work placements are available across the province upon request.

Session/Training Dates

  • Toronto training session: Nov. 20, 2023 – Jan. 26, 2024
  • Toronto paid work placement (four weeks): February 2024
  • Ottawa training session: Jan. 2 – Mar. 1, 2024
  • Ottawa paid work placement (four weeks): March 2024


There is no cost to participate. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided. Participants are responsible for personal transportation to and from training sites, as well as food and living expenses.

Program Eligibility

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Eligible to work in Canada
  • Unemployed or working fewer than 20 hours per week on average
worker with chainsaw in hard hat and safety coat cutting log

Apply for the Arborist Ground Worker Training Program

Applications for the 2023-2024 Arborist Ground Worker Training Program are now open! Reach out to us at if you have any questions about the application process.

Apply for the Toronto, Ontario session
Program runs Nov. 20, 2023 - Jan. 26, 2024
Complete the application form
Sign up for Toronto info session (required)
*You must attend an info session to be eligible
Sign up for an info session
Apply for the Ottawa, Ontario session
Program runs Jan. 2 - Mar. 1, 2024
Complete the application form
Sign up for Ottawa info session (required)
*You must attend an info session to be eligible
Sign up for an info session
Apply for the London, Ontario session
Program runs Jan. 2 - Mar. 3, 2023
Complete the application form

Information for Employers

Interested in hiring a trained Arborist Ground Worker? Employers who meet the eligibility criteria may be able to hire program graduates from the Arborist Ground Worker Training Program!

Benefits of Becoming an Employer Partner

  • Access to a pool of trained Ground Workers that have hands-on technical training and worksite safety training (certifications include Chainsaw Safety Awareness, First Aid, Working at Heights, and Electrical Safety Awareness)
  • Apply for Skills Development Fund Placement Support Funds to mediate training costs
  • Create jobs for people facing unemployment or underemployment
  • Employ individuals with up-to-date techniques and health and safety practices
  • Gain support from our program staff
  • Guide and train the next generation of Arborists

Employer Eligibility

Employers eligible to hire workers from our Arborist Ground Worker Training program must fulfil the following requirements:

  • Registered and licensed to operate in Ontario
  • Complies with all relevant legislation including human rights legislation, Occupational Health and Safety Act, Employment Standards Act, and Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
  • Provides employment in Ontario
  • Maintains appropriate Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) or alternative workplace insurance coverage with adequate third party liability insurance
  • Does not hire students to displace existing staff
  • Does not receive government funds from any other source for the same training and job placement services
adult worker cutting trees

How to Apply as a Placement Employer

  1. Complete the Skills Development Fund Employer Registration Form and submit via mail or email (address and contact information listed below). *Note: You will need to save the form to your computer before you can fill it out digitally.
  2. Arrange an initial site visit with Jessie Shapansky (contact listed below). This visit will confirm suitability and safety.
  3. Employers who secure a placement will complete a Skills Development Fund Placement Agreement and participate in placement site monitoring.

Learn More About Partnering with The Career Foundation

Program Coordinator: Jessie Shapansky
Phone: 437-500-3186

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Arborist Ground Worker?

An Arborist Ground Worker helps Arborists and other crew members by performing ground work. Ground work includes, but is not limited to, prepping job sites, assisting tree climbers, running ropes, cleaning work sites, cutting trees, operating chainsaws, chippers, and other equipment.

Are Employment Insurance (E.I.) recipients eligible to participate?

E.I. recipients are eligible to apply. Check with Service Canada before enrolling.

Is this Pre-Apprenticeship Training?

No, this program is not a pre-apprenticeship program. Graduates receive assistance to secure employment in the arboriculture industry. Once employed, graduates can register as an Arborist Apprentice with their selected employer.

Does the participant have to be considered a youth? What are the eligibility requirements?

Participants do not have to be youth; they must be 18 years or older and be unemployed or employed part-time (working less than 20 hours per week). Participants must be available Monday to Friday, between 30 – 40 hours per week, to participate in the program.

How many participants will be accepted into the program?

24 students will be selected to participate in each cohort. There will be two cohorts in 2023-2024: one based in Toronto, Ontario and the other based in Ottawa, Ontario.

Will participants secure employment post-program? What is the labour market like in Arboriculture?

The program will assist graduates with securing and maintaining employment post-training. The arboriculture industry has had a shortage of skilled workers. Employment is available in many cities and towns across Ontario for skilled arborists.

Do participants receive any stipends or incentives to participate in the program?

No, participants do not receive stipends or incentives from this program.

Where will the training take place?

Training will take place at various sites across the city of Toronto for the Toronto cohort and across the city of Ottawa for the Ottawa cohort. Public transportation and parking will be accessible. Participants must secure their own transportation to and from training sites.

Funders and Partners

The Arborist Ground Worker Training Program is made possible through the Skills Development Fund project funding from the Government of Ontario and the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD).

As a sector-focused workforce development pilot, the Skills Development Fund supports partnerships that bring together employers with employment and training providers. The goal is to develop a pool of job-ready, skilled workers that meet employers’ workforce development needs.

Employment Ontario tri-logo

This Employment Ontario project is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.