The Ontario government has launched a new Crown agency to address the skilled trades labour shortage.
Announced Jan. 25 by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Skilled Trades Ontario is expected to improve trades training and simplify services, the government said.
According to the announcement, the agency will promote and market the trades, in addition to developing training and curriculum standards. Furthermore, it will provide a streamlined user-friendly experience for tradespeople.
This, the government expects, will see more people available for jobs that are in demand.
Dylan McLeod / Unsplash
“We’re redrawing the system to address Ontario’s labour shortage and make the trades a career of choice for more people,” Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, said in a statement. “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 labour shortage in the skilled trades is expected to hit 350,000 by 2025.
A new online service will help conveniently manage their careers. It will have an online one-stop-shop for scheduling classes and exams, submitting forms, paying fees and more. The government expects this change to ease the labour shortage. It also observed that it will be easier for people to learn about and enter the trades. It will reduce processing and registration times for applicants from 60 days to 12.
The agency will be led by Michael Sherrard, who will hold the position of chair at 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,” he said in a statement.
The announcement was met positively by Diane Freeman, executive director of the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario, which represents businesses in the province’s automotive service industry.
“Our association looks forward to meeting with Michael Sherrard, chair of Skilled Trades Ontario, the board of directors to offer our assistance to modernize the training and curriculum standards for the automotive sector,” she told AutoServiceWorld.com “We welcome the new agency on the promotion of skilled trades to the youth in Ontario as a professional career choice.”
According to the government announcement, apprentice registrations under the Ontario College of Trades fell by over 17,000 or 40 per cent. The average age of an apprentice is 29 years old today.
The government’s Skilled Trades Strategy will be administered by an independent board of directors. It will be responsible for breaking stigmas surrounding the trades, simplifying the system and encouraging employers to hire more apprentices.
“The skilled trades are the backbone of our province — offering 144 well-paying and in-demand careers for people to choose from,” said Melissa Young, chief executive officer and registrar.