The Ontario government is introducing new measures to help tradespeople get their certification from one reliable, streamlined destination through a new Crown agency, Skilled Trades Ontario, that would replace the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT).
Today, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, introduced the Building Opportunities in the Skilled TradesAct, legislation designed to make the province’s skilled trades and apprenticeship system more efficient, accessible and easier to navigate.
Under the proposed legislation, Skilled Trades Ontario would become the province’s industry-informed training authority to lead the promotion, research and development of the latest apprenticeship training and curriculum standards. It will also provide a seamless one window experience for client-facing services including apprentice registration, issuance of certificates and renewals, and conduct equivalency assessments all in one place with many services offered digitally.
“Skilled trades workers are the engine of our economy,” said Minister McNaughton. “Under the current system, responsibilities are shared between OCOT and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, causing confusion and added burden for people wanting to pursue a career in the skilled trades, which leads to employers struggling to find qualified skilled trades workers. That is why our government is building a skilled trades system that attracts more people into well-paying and meaningful careers that are truly life-changing.”
As recommended by the Skilled Trades Panel’s first report, Ontario will streamline and simplify the apprenticeship system by establishing a new Crown agency. The Ministry will provide system oversight and be responsible for regulatory decisions, financial supports and take on responsibility for compliance and enforcement of the skilled trades, building on existing expertise, best practices and a robust inspector network that is already in place across the province.
“We heard loud and clear from apprentices, journeypersons and employers alike that OCOT is not working,” said Minister McNaughton. “Following our expert Panel’s recommendations, we are taking a thoughtful and measured approach by launching Skilled Trades Ontario, a new agency that will put the trades first.”
These initiatives are part of the government’s Skilled Trades Strategy, which includes reducing the stigma related to a trades career, simplifying the apprenticeship system, and encouraging business participation.
- Data suggests that the need to replace retiring workers is greater for skilled trades workers than for other occupations. In 2016, nearly one in three journeypersons were aged 55 years or older.
- There are 144 skilled trades in Ontario.
- The Skilled Trades Panel includes Michael Sherrard as the Chair, and industry representatives Jason Ottey, Melanie Winter, Shaun Scott and Melissa Young.
- The Skilled Trades Panel is currently consulting on Phase 2 of its mandate, which will focus on classification and training in the trades. Those wishing to take part in the online consultation can visit: https://www.ontario.ca/page/skilled-trades-panel-consultations.
“We welcome a new agency that takes a fresh approach and genuine interest in advancing Ontario’s skilled trades and apprenticeship system. We are hopeful that Skilled Trades Ontario will stay focused on its mandate to promote the trades and encourage employers to play a greater role in mentoring aspiring tradespeople from the start to finish of their apprenticeship. That’s the way to close the skills gap, lead economic recovery and keep Ontario competitive.”
– Stephen Hamilton
Chair of the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance (OSTA)
“Minister McNaughton continues to exemplify collaborative and strategic leadership in eliminating red-tape for apprenticeship training and enhance prosperous opportunities in the skilled-trades. The establishment of Skilled Trades Ontario, based on the recommendations of the Skills Trades Panel will demonstrate a responsive apprenticeship model for the future, modernizing the skilled trades and optimizing career building opportunities. The Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) is proud to continue its advocacy, in partnership with industry and government, to remove barriers and empower Ontario’s future workforce who remain the centre of building and strengthening communities across the province.”
– Joseph S. Mancinelli
LiUNA International Vice President and Regional Manager of Central and Eastern Canada
“The Building Trades Council welcomes Minister McNaughton’s legislative direction to protect the construction trades classification system.”
– Patrick J. Dillon
Business Manager and Secretary Treasurer, Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario
“I commend Minister McNaughton and Premier Ford for their unwavering commitment to the construction industry and for presenting a plan to streamline and simplify the skilled trades and apprenticeship system by restoring whole trades and establishing the new training agency, Skilled Trades Ontario. I look forward to working with the government on the Compliance and Enforcement framework.”
– James St. John
Business Manager / Financial Secretary, Central Ontario Building Trades, Director of the Hammer Heads Program
“IBEW applauds Minister McNaughton’s leadership by changing course with new legislation to stand up Skilled Trades Ontario. This marks a significant change from the previous legislative approach that would have seen skill sets erode electrical safety. IBEW is pleased to work with Government through the legislative process to ensure that any necessary amendments enhance the protection, growth and safety of Ontario’s electrical industry.”
– James Barry
Executive Secretary Treasurer, The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Construction Council of Ontario
“Apprenticeship programs hold the power to give the next generation the training they need to build the manufacturing sector’s output, productivity, and profitability. Manufacturers have been proactively advocating for new approaches to streamline apprenticeship processes and improve the training for skilled workers. The creation of Skilled Trades Ontario is an important step to address labour and skills shortages facing manufacturers by simplifying apprenticeship requirements and attracting new skilled workers to the sector.”
– Mathew Wilson
Senior Vice-President, Policy and Government Relations, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME)
“Since Minister McNaughton became Minister of Labour, he has taken the time to get to know our industry and the issues that matter most, whether it’s protecting health and safety or ensuring that the skilled trades system is strong for years to come. I applaud the government for listening and for working closely with labour to develop a plan to simplify the system and for following through on their commitment to re-establishing whole trades instead of portable skill sets.”
– Bob Gougeon
SMART, Local 285, Business Manager / Financial Secretary
“On behalf of the Ontario Hairstylists Association, we look forward to working with the government and the ministry that will oversee skilled trades in Ontario. Launching a new system that is easier to navigate is a step in the right direction to help tradespeople move through, and into the system with greater ease. Employers will hopefully find this new system an asset to grow business and get people back to work, particularly after this long year and half of shutdown for our trade. We still have a lot of work to do to ease the red tape for hairstylists and we remain hopeful that the Skilled Trades Panel and Phase 2 around classifications will remove hairstyling from being a compulsory trade.”
– Ontario Hairstylists Association
“Merit Ontario welcomes the Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades Act as it will further modernize the skilled trades and reduce the barriers to entry faced by marginalized groups. This builds on the essential measures taken by the Ford Government and Minister McNaughton to ensure that Ontarians know that a career in the skilled trades is respected, well-paying, and brings the dignity of work to the entire community. Our organization stands ready to do our part to make the skilled trades more inclusive while remaining a primary choice for Ontario’s youth.”
– Mike Gallardo
President & CEO, Merit Ontario
“By establishing Skilled Trades Ontario, the province is helping connect employers with the tradespersons and apprentices they need, particularly as the economy recovers from the impacts of the pandemic. Builders and professional renovators know how important it is to reduce the stigma around skilled trades, simplify the system and make it easier to connect with the tradespersons we need to help address the housing needs of Ontario families, now and into the future.”
– Joe Vaccaro
CEO, Ontario Home Builders Association