New HRPA report calls for reform of Ontario's College of Trades to tackle province's skilled trades shortage

TORONTO, May 8, 2014 /CNW/ - Ontario's new College of Trades must make changes to its apprenticeships regime, including modernizing the certified tradespeople-to-student ratio required to train apprentices, and ensuring fair and transparent classification of compulsory trades, according to a new report released today by the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA).

The report, Apprenticeship Reform: Ontario's future depends on it, also calls for increased government promotion of skilled trades careers among young Ontarians.

"Ontario is facing a skilled trades shortage that is costing the province $24B annually and, paradoxically, it is occurring at a time when youth unemployment is hovering around 17 per cent," said HRPA CEO Bill Greenhalgh. "To restore Ontario's prosperity, the government must invigorate the trades to both fulfil the talent needs of business and to create high-paying jobs for young people. I hope HRPA's recommendations will prompt discussion among government, business, educational institutes and other stakeholders on how they can partner to produce apprentices and apprenticeship programs that meet the province's skills needs."

Key recommendations include modernizing Ontario's journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio (the numbers of certified tradespersons required to train an apprentice). Compared to other provinces, Ontario's current ratio is restrictive and unjustifiable—and risks losing potential apprentices to provinces with more favourable ratios. The report recommends government review the current ratio to get the province in synch with other jurisdictions.

The report also calls for fair and transparent classification of compulsory trades. While some trades like electrician, plumber or auto mechanic are already compulsory and require certification of tradespeople, the College's Review Panel is charged with classifying other trades and deciding whether they need to become compulsory (with added fees and training demands for workers). HRPA recommends ensuring fairness and transparency during this process, with the rationale for every decision to extend the range of compulsory trades clearly outlined and monitored for consistency.

And most importantly, the report says government must do more to promote the skilled trades as viable and lucrative careers to young people, including: raising awareness of future prospects in the trades, changing perceptions of skilled trades, increasing the flexibility of paths to skilled trade jobs, and increasing apprenticeship completion rates (which now sit at about 50%).

Please click here to view the full report.

SOURCE: Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario

For further information: J. Scott Allinson, Vice President Public Affairs, sallinson@hrpa.ca, 416.923.2324 x 321

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