Canadian Consulting Engineer

New Skilled Trades Ontario to replace Ontario College of Trades

The new act is designed to make the province’s skilled trades and apprentice system easier to navigate, as well as more accessible.

May 17, 2021  CCE

The Ontario government has announced that a new Crown agency to be known as Skilled Trades Ontario will replace the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT).

In a May 6 statement, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton said the government would move swiftly with the Skilled Trades Act, implementing a new system that would be more efficient and easier to navigate. “I think we’ve built an overwhelming consensus within the industry,” said McNaughton. “I can tell you my team and I’ve worked really, really hard on them to get it right.”

McNaughton said he was implementing the first phase of recommendations of an advisory committee, the Skilled Trades Panel, that includes Michael Sherrard as chair and industry representatives Jason Ottey, Melanie Winter, Shaun Scott, and Melissa Young.

The new Skilled Trades Ontario will be one streamlined destination, the minister said, with tradespeople obtaining their certification from the agency.

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Skilled Trades Ontario will take input from the industry and will be responsible for the promotion, research and development of new apprenticeship training and curriculum standards, the minister said. It will provide a simplified pathway for apprentice registration, issuance of certificates and renewals and equivalency assessments.

The government announced it was winding down OCOT in October 2018. The Skilled Trades Panel was appointed to recommend its replacement last year.

“This is an exciting day for the skilled trades in Ontario,” said McNaughton. “We have a looming crisis with one in three journeypersons over the age of 55 today, and the average age of an apprentice is 30. This crisis has to be dealt with. Everything that I’m doing as minister and what we’re all doing, I believe, collectively, as a province, is to ensure that we’re ending the stigma around the trades to get more young people to see these careers as meaningful.”

A statement released by the ministry included endorsements from Stephen Hamilton, chair of the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance; Joseph Mancinelli, LIUNA international vice-president; Patrick Dillon, business manager of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario; James St. John, business manager of the Central Ontario Building Trades; James Barry, executive secretary treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Construction Council of Ontario; Mike Gallardo, president and CEO of Merit Ontario; and Joe Vaccaro CEO of the Ontario Home Builders Association. “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,” Stephen Hamilton said in a release. “That’s the way to close the skills gap, lead economic recovery and keep Ontario competitive.”

The Skilled Trades Panel is currently consulting on the second phase of its mandate, which will focus on classification and training in the trades.

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