As the skilled trades workforce ages, the Ontario government is trying to cut through the red tape around skilled trades training and at the same time embarking on a program promoting the skilled trades as a career option. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announced the launching of Skilled Trades Ontario, a new Crown agency, to improve trades training and simplify services. The new agency will promote and market the trades, develop the latest training and curriculum standards, and provide a streamlined experience for tradespeople.
“We’re redrawing the system to address Ontario’s labour shortage and make the trades a career of choice for more people,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “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 new online services will help apprentices conveniently manage their careers in one place with an online one-stop-shop for scheduling classes and exams, submitting forms, paying fees and more. These changes will reduce the skilled labour shortage the province currently faces – estimated at 350,000 by 2025 – by making it easier for more people to learn about and enter the trades, including reducing processing and registration times for applicants from 60 days to 12.
There are 144 trades in Ontario. By 2025, one in five jobs will be in the trades.
Under the Ontario College of Trades, apprentice registrations fell by over 17,000 or 40%. Today, the average age of an apprentice is 29 years old.
The previous system had prospective tradespeople mailing documents to offices for one service, calling in for a second and appearing in person for a third. This was confusing and prevented many apprentices from pursuing their interests.
Data suggests that the need to replace retiring workers is greater for trades workers than for other occupations. In 2016, nearly one in three journeypersons in Ontario were aged 55 years or older.