Ontario to Modernize and Streamline Apprenticeship Training

The Ontario government is introducing new measures to help tradespeople get their certification from one reliable, streamlined destination through a new Crown agency, Skilled Trades Ontario, that would replace the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT).

Currently, the OCOT has an Apprenticeship Training and Curriculum Standard for Cabinetmaking. This training standard was developed by the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (MTCU), in partnership with the Industry Committee and in consultation with representatives from the industry. The program guidelines include 720 hours of in-school training and 7280 hours of on-the-job training, with a supervision ratio of one trainer to three apprentices. The apprenticeship is positioned as a learning exercise for the apprentice and training as an investment for the employer.

Recently, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training, and Skills Development introduced the Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades Act, legislation designed to make the province’s skilled trades and apprenticeship system more efficient, accessible, and easier to navigate.

Under the proposed legislation, Skilled Trades Ontario would become the province’s industry-informed training authority to lead the promotion, research, and development of the latest apprenticeship training and curriculum standards. It will also provide a seamless one window experience for client-facing services, including apprentice registration, issuance of certificates and renewals, and conduct equivalency assessments all in one place with many services offered digitally.

“Skilled trades workers are the engine of our economy,” said Minister McNaughton. “Under the current system, responsibilities are shared between OCOT and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, causing confusion and added burden for people wanting to pursue a career in the skilled trades, which leads to employers struggling to find qualified skilled trades workers. That is why our government is building a skilled trades system that attracts more people into well-paying and meaningful careers that are truly life-changing.”

As recommended by the Skilled Trades Panel’s first report, Ontario will streamline and simplify the apprenticeship system by establishing a new Crown agency. The Ministry will provide system oversight and be responsible for regulatory decisions, financial supports, and take on responsibility for compliance and enforcement of the skilled trades, building on existing expertise, best practices, and a robust inspector network that is already in place across the province.

“We heard loud and clear from apprentices, journeypersons, and employers alike that OCOT is not working,” said Minister McNaughton. “Following our expert Panel’s recommendations, we’re taking a thoughtful and measured approach by launching Skilled Trades Ontario, a new agency that will put the trades first.”

These initiatives are part of the government’s Skilled Trades Strategy, which includes reducing the stigma related to a trades career, simplifying the apprenticeship system, and encouraging business participation.

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