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News   June 21, 2018   by Allan Janssen

OCOT looks for input on developing its next five-year-plan

Ontario College of Trades plans to increase member engagement and make skilled trades more meaningful, attractive, and rewarding.

George Gritziotis, CEO and registrar of the Ontario College of Trades.

Clarifying the Ontario College of Trades’ value proposition will be “front and center” in the ongoing consultation about how OCOT should position itself over the next five years, the college’s CEO and registrar says.

Speaking at the college’s annual members meeting in Toronto on Tuesday, George Gritziotis admitted that even after eight years of operation, the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) has trouble proving its value to members.

“The value proposition. ‘What do I get for $120 a year?’ I can’t answer that, and it bugs me that I can’t answer it,” he said. “I need everybody’s help to help me figure it out, and we’re throwing out some ideas. But it’s our goal to be able to get our members to understand what they’re getting from the college.”

He said it can be difficult to measure progress as the college strives to meet its mandate to regulate and promote skilled trades. Keeping unregulated, uncertified workers out of the marketplace is especially challenging, and it is a source of frequent complaints from employers who are following the rules.

Indeed, one employer in the room used the question period following the meeting to complain about having to compete with uncertified tradespeople.

There are well over 200,000 workplaces that employ skilled trades, and many more work sites where tradespeople operate. Yet the college has just 45 enforcement officers to deal with consumer and industry complaints.

“That’s a daunting task,” Gritziotis said. “Having just 45 officers is not going to be able to get us to the Promised Land on this. We have to find ways of doing it.”

He sees his enforcement officers as working ‘on a continuum’ to enforce the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009.

“Part of their job is to create awareness, educate, train, warn, and – if someone is egregiously avoiding the Act – then to penalize and fine,” he said.

“If you have an unregistered worker who’s looking to put food on his table, a conversation to get them registered into an apprenticeship would be a victorious visit for an officer, especially in a sector where we’re faced with retirements and labour shortages,” he said. “We wouldn’t be doing the market or any industry a favour by simply saying, ‘You’re unregistered, here’s a ticket.’ We’re going to have a conversation first, and we’re going to attempt to get them registered into an apprenticeship.”

Gritziotis told about 150 ‘stakeholders’ at the members meeting that just aligning the various views of what the college should be is no easy task.

“The college marketplace is extremely diverse in terms of needs, expectations, and relationships,” he said. “In fact, the College of Trades is unlike any other regulatory body in the province, or quite frankly across Canada. Possibly around the world.”

It regulates 156 trades, 23 of them compulsory (you must be an OCOT member in order to work in that trade), and some 238,000 members across the province.

“The only way I believe we can get to where we want to be is by engaging with our stakeholders in an open and transparent way,” he said. “We won’t progress if we’re not willing to talk to one another.”

That will be the task over the next few months, as the college prepares to develop its next five-year plan. He said the planning process will begin in earnest in the fall.

During the meeting OCOT chairman Don Gosen agreed it was time for the college to “recalibrate” after eight years of operation.

A financial report was also delivered at the meeting.

It was reported that the college’s auditors, Deloitte, issued an unqualified audit. (“That’s a good thing,” pointed out Howard Deane, chairman of the finances and audit committee.)

Revenues in 2017 totalled $31 million – $24.7 million from membership fees. Revenue over expenses totalled $5.5 million, and the college ended the year in a favorable financial position with net assets of just over $18 million.

The college employs 192 permanent full time employees, with combined salaries and benefits of $16.2 million.

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9 Comments » for OCOT looks for input on developing its next five-year-plan
  1. So if I do the math @ 192 employees and a cost of 16.2 million dollars that is $84,375 per employee. MY GOD that is more than most of the trades people make for a whole year with out those government benefits. And we still get nothing in return!! I recently tried to get an apprentice signed up and we no longer have a travelling representative. We have to do all the work. On line. No personal one on one contact like back in the good old days. I would like to know what they are going to do with the money left over in the bank . Lets hope they don’t decide to give themselves a raise.

    • J says:

      That is not the OCOT though that you register your apprentice through.

    • Lindsey Bakker says:

      OCOT has done very little since inception to increase trade numbers. Every year OCOT has had less apprentices from a high of 94,978 in 2013 to 53,134 in 2016. OCOT even after numerous request will not release trade specific numbers so we can determine how motive power trades are actually doing. In 2016 OCOT invested almost $15 million or over 60% of cash in bank in investments up to December 2048 without any consultation with its members.OCOT spends over 60% of our membership fees on wages and benefits. OCOT’s office on Bay Street in Toronto is one of the most expensive places to rent in Canada. OCOT’s 2017 fiscal outlook shows that OCOT will go from revenue exceeding expenses now,revenue equal expenses by 2019 and expenses over taking revenue by 2021. When OCOT was asked how much we as tradespeople payed our board of governors at year end was stonewalled. We as tradespeople should question OCOTs viability for motive power trades. OCOT could be advocating for real tax law changes for our trades for Tools and education. It’s time for OCOT to live up to its mandate,work for tradespeople and be transparent to its members or it may be time we pursue our own licensing board that works toward changing inherent flaws stopping apprentices from getting into motive power as well as keeping journeypersons in our trades.

  2. Bob Ward says:

    I certainly understand Jamie’s concerns. I feel that OCOT is making a difference. Their primary focus is on worker safety and public safety. The new CEO has outlined a plan to have OCOT promote the trades and deal with the many misconceptions trades people have. Change is happening but as we all know it take time. They have to deal with several government agencies which have not been allowed to institute change due to the upcoming change in parliament. The issue with apprentice registration is with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development not Ontario College of Trades. Yes we have lost travelling representation but learning the contacts needed will make the registration process easier. All government agencies with field reps are under a hiring freeze. Enforcement needs to be increased in order to make the system stronger. We all know the issues MTO has to deal with in the Motor vehicle Inspection system which is related to enforcement as well.

    • Neal says:

      The OCOT should NOT be dealing with worker health and safety, thats the Ministry of Labour’s job. From my experience the OCOT has only existed as a registry of who is registered and if they have paid their dues. If they are not even dealing with apprentice registration and process then what is the point of their existence. The system worked before, its just that it was not promoted and it didn’t make a couple of executives any money. Any marketing I have seen for the trades has come from either unions or colleges, not the OCOT.

  3. Conal says:

    What would be beneficial is if there was a kind of registry on their website for tradespeople to connect and to put in their names if they are looking for work or for employers looking for workers. If there is one….it should be easily accessible. If you want apprentices to sign on and grow in the trades, they need to know where the jobs are, and what kind of pay they can expect now and in the future. Membership should have it’s privileges and if we are truly experiencing a shortage of quality tradespeople, we should make it easy for more people to get into the industry and see how rewarding it can be.

  4. Dave Macko says:

    To me, it seems that if OCOT is moving to a generative discussion with membership before establishing or refreshing strategic goals is a recipe to continue to flounder. Really, eight years and the organization’s leadership cannot readily define the key benefits to members? The strategic plan is well past its best before date. What about fiduciary obligations to membership? Why do we require revenue over expenses in the millions of dollars? It should come as no surprise many are disillusioned. Time to raise the bar of accountability.

  5. Carm Camuti says:

    OCOTs plans should include working with Faculties of Education that provide tech teacher training. Tech programs in Ontario are being threatened by a shortage of qualified skilled trades teachers. Encouraging trades people to become qualified teachers would be a proactive action that would benefit long term. If these programs are closed secondary school students will not have the opportunity for exposure to skilled trades. The other issue, the retention of apprentices, is that the ratio factor creates obstacles. Completion of apprenticeship programs could be significantly increased if secondary school students that are participating in OYAP programs, which are exempt from ratios, could have the exemption extended past graduation of secondary school for a year or two. Many of our OYAP students upon completion of grade 12 are not kept on by the employer due to the fact that they now have to work within the ratio. This would provide great benefits to our students and is something that could be easily implemented while at the same time provide a greater success rate for our students.

  6. Bernhard Stegner says:

    There are a few issues that OCOT is not responsible for ….
    1. The bottleneck of registering apprentices was not the job of OCOT, it is
    the Ministry’s work, perhaps we could ask Kevin Flynn ex minister who
    is looking for a new job why there were delays.
    2. OCOT was a self funded Organization, no cash from the Province, the
    services offered were, enforcement, creating/updating educational
    curriculum, offering a online registry to confirm if a Journey person has
    a legal licence to work in Ontario for consumers and the review the
    scope of practice ……
    like why is a labourer installing a Electricians conduit and pulling the
    cable through it, would you approve a plumber wiring your new
    3. OCOT’s mandate suffered interference from politicians and the
    associated ministries, it was in the infancy and required internal
    tweaking. The Trade Board members (volunteers) were allowed an
    average of four days per year to deal with Trade related issues
    which was hardly enough.
    4. If the Province wishes to add more apprentices to a journey person as a
    cure they better wake up because I know of No journey person that
    would volunteer to take on more work, and the associated risk of harm
    and reduced quality of work from apprentices. Don’t be surprised if
    there is a Journey person Boycott of apprentices if the ratios change.

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