The Ontario government is replacing the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) with a new crown agency the provincial government hopes will make Ontario’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 top training authority and will lead the research and development of new apprenticeship training and curriculum standards.
It will also provide a single point of contact for services, including apprentice registration, issuing and renewing certificates and equivalency assessments, with many services offered digitally.
“Skilled trades workers are the engine of our economy” said Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte 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.”
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 an 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 are 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.