Ontario launches agency to address skills shortage

Government estimates reveal there will be only 350,0000 skilled trade workers by 2025

Ontario launches agency to address skills shortage

The government of Ontario has launched a new Crown agency that aims to address the labour shortage in the province and make trades a "career of choice for more people".

In a government announcement, the new Skilled Trades Ontario will improve trades training and simplify services to develop more workers for in-demand jobs. This comes as the province struggles with an over 40% drop in apprentice registrations, leading to an ageing workforce where the average of an apprentice is 29 years old. Government data also revealed that there is a greater need in the trades industry to replace retiring workers than in order occupations.

"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," the government said in its announcement.

The new agency will provide an online one-stop-shop for apprentices where they can schedule their classes and exams, submit forms, pay fees and more. It will also cut down processing and registration times for applicants to 12 days from the original 60. This will reduce the skilled labour shortage faced by the province, where estimates say will reach 350,000 by 2025, by making it trades more accessible to people.

"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," said Labour Minister Monte McNaughton in a statement.

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Michael Sherrard has been delegated as the chair of the Skilled Trades Ontario, who said that he is an "important milestone" that he is "thrilled to be a part of leading."

"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," Sherrard said.

Along with Sherrard holding the reins is an independent Board of Directors who will lead the agency in delivering the government's Skilled Trades Strategy, an initiative that seeks to "break the stigma surrounding the trades, simplify the system, and encourage employers to hire more apprentices." Meanwhile, various groups welcomed the initiative from the Ontario government, including the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario and Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance.

Patrick McManus, chair of the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance, said in a statement that they are optimistic that the new Crown agency is "up to the challenge of building a skilled trades and apprenticeship system that's more modern, streamlined, and flexible." Jim Hogarth, president of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, also welcomed the establishment of the Skilled Trades Ontario.

"We look forward to working with their leadership team to promote and strengthen the construction trades, and to ensure that Ontario leads the way with the best, safest, and most up-to-date training standards in Canada."

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