Ontario targets skilled trades with new agency
By Adam FreillConstruction Skills Development
Skilled Trades Ontario replaces OCOT with aim to address labour shortage.
The Ontario government has launched Skilled Trades Ontario, a new Crown agency, in an effort to increase the number of people employed in the skilled trades. The new agency, which replaces the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT), will promote and market the trades, develop training and curriculum standards, and provide a streamlined user-friendly experience for tradespeople.
“We’re redrawing the system to address Ontario’s labour shortage and make the trades a career of choice for more people,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “The skilled trades provide well-paying and rewarding careers that are vital for our economy. By creating this new agency, we are working for workers and delivering the generational change that labour leaders and employers have been calling for.”
The new online services will help apprentices conveniently manage their careers in one place. The agency will operate an online one-stop-shop for scheduling classes and exams, submitting forms, paying fees, and more.
By simplifying processes and working to attract new people into the trades, the province is hoping that Skilled Trades Ontario will reduce the skilled labour shortage the province currently faces.
“The creation of Skilled Trades Ontario is an important milestone, and one I am thrilled to be a part of leading,” said Michael Sherrard, chair of Skilled Trades Ontario. “The implementation of a successful apprenticeship and skilled trades system is critical to the economic growth and success of our province, and today’s announcement is the next step in securing that future for us all.”
An independent Board of Directors will lead the agency in delivering on the government’s Skilled Trades Strategy to break the stigma surrounding the trades, simplify the system, and encourage employers to hire more apprentices.
“The skilled trades are the backbone of our province – offering 144 well-paying and in-demand careers for people to choose from,” said chief executive officer and registrar Melissa Young. “I commend this government for bringing generational change that will remove the stigma surrounding the trades, cut down on red tape, and ensure all young people know these jobs offer a clear path to a better life.”
Under the OCOT, apprentice registrations fell by over 17,000, or 40 per cent. The average age of an apprentice is currently 29 years old. In 2016, one-third of journeypersons in the province were 55 years old or older. Without intervention, it has been estimated that the shortage of personnel in the skilled trades will hit 350,000 in Ontario by 2025.
“The launch of Skilled Trades Ontario is a critical step in eliminating barriers and time-consuming red-tape for apprenticeship training, while streamlining a worker-focused approach to empower opportunities for a rewarding and lucrative career path,” said Joseph Mancinelli, vice-president and regional manager of Central and Eastern Canada at LiUNA International, a union with more than a half-million members in Canada and the U.S. “These welcomed changes will help to ensure that our province continues to respond to growing labour demands while empowering career building opportunities for a diverse and skilled workforce who remain at the forefront of building and strengthening critical infrastructure that our communities and economy rely on.”