The Ontario government has launched Skilled Trades Ontario, a new Crown agency, to improve trades training and simplify services.
The new agency will promote and market the trades, develop the latest training and curriculum standards, and provide a streamlined user-friendly experience for tradespeople.
It replaces the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) that was often criticized for being bureaucratic and lacking responsiveness and enforcement. Skilled Trades Ontario is part of an overall remaking of he skilled trades and apprenticeship program operation in the province.
“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 with an online one-stop-shop for scheduling classes and exams, submitting forms, paying fees and more.
These changes will reduce the skilled labour shortage the province currently faces – estimated at 350,000 by 2025 – by making it easier for more people to learn about and enter the trades, including reducing processing and registration times for applicants from 60 days to 12.
“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, said the province in a statement.
“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.”