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Ontario to streamline apprenticeship through new Skilled Trades Ontario that replaces OCOT

Proposed legislation will help apprentices prepare for in-demand jobs and complete their training faster


May 7, 2021
By Colleen Cross


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Toronto – The Ontario government is introducing new measures to help tradespeople get their certification from one reliable destination through a new Crown agency, Skilled Trades Ontario, that would replace the Ontario College of Trades.

This week Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, introduced the Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades Act, 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. The idea is to carry out apprentice registration, issue certificates and renewals and conduct equivalency assessments all in one place with many services offered digitally.

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“Skilled trades workers are the engine of our economy,” Minister McNaughton said. “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.

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.

Quick facts

  • 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.