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).
OCOT has been much criticized over the years, being accused of acting as a barrier to completing certifications rather than facilitating the completion of certification by skilled trades workers.
Under the proposed Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades Act 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.”
“We welcome a new agency that takes a fresh approach and genuine interest in advancing Ontario’s skilled trades and apprenticeship system” says Stephen Hamilton, Chair of the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance (OSTA)
“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,”
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.