Skilled Trades Ontario (STO) celebrated its one-year anniversary by announcing updated training standards for apprentices and employers in the horticulture and arborist trades as well as upcoming changes to three heavy equipment operator trades: tractor loader backhoe, excavator and dozer.
The province’s newest agency says the updated standards better reflect industry needs and align with Red Seal standards.
For the horticultural technician, arborist and utility arborist trades, the changes include a revision of the horticultural technician on-the-job training standard to align with the Red Seal Occupational Standard and a structural refresh of the arborist and utility arborist curriculum content for better cohesion, giving apprentices additional time to learn theoretical content.
Changes to the three heavy equipment operator trades are currently in the works, said Melissa Young, CEO of STO, and will further align with provincial and territorial Red Seal standards.
“A year ago, Skilled Trades Ontario was established to transform skilled trades and apprenticeship in our province,” said Young during the announcement.
“We were given a very clear mandate: number one, to streamline the system for apprentices and skilled tradespeople; two, to promote the many opportunities the skilled trades have to offer; and three, to address the labour shortage by making it easier to get into the trades. This has been no easy task.”
The STO continues to engage with partners and seek input, Young said.
“On May 3 we will be hosting Building Ontario’s Future, our first annual apprenticeship industry summit,” she said. “The conference will bring together industry leaders, educators and apprentices to discuss and share ideas to support and grow apprenticeship in Ontario. We also plan to unveil our strategic plan at this event and ask for feedback on our priorities over the next three years.”
According to the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, to meet the demand in Red Seal trades alone an average of 75,000 new apprentices across Canada will need to be hired every year for the next five years, Young told those in attendance.
Celebrating its accomplishments, STO highlighted that it established an online register of workers in the compulsory trades, helped over 3,800 skilled newcomers to complete their trade equivalency assessments and become certified here in Ontario, and renewed over 134,000 compulsory certificates of qualification along with unveiling a new logo and brand.
“Recently, we were recognized by the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship who ranked us as a national leader in providing subject matter experts to inform new Red Seal occupational standards,” Young explained. “If the past year is any indication, the future is looking very bright in Ontario for skilled trades.”
Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development, was also in attendance to mark the anniversary of the “modernization of the apprenticeship system.”
“Today there are over 340,000 jobs going unfilled, many of them in the skilled trades,” he said. “This shortage really holds back businesses from growing, delays building roads, public transit and schools, makes it harder to improve our health care system and contributes to the rising cost of living…At the same time many people are looking for good jobs. Jobs like those in the skilled trades.”
STO has already made giant steps in improving training and simplifying services for apprentices, workers and employers in the skilled trades, McNaughton said.
“The agency swiftly launched a new, one-window digital portal to provide apprentices the ability to schedule classes and exams, submit forms, pay fees and more; introduced a digital log book pilot now allowing more than 100 new apprentices to conveniently track and send their training progress to sponsors for approval completely online; and promoted the fantastic career opportunities in the trades to more than 13,000 students, parents and teachers during the skilled trades career fairs last fall,” he said.
Craig Stephenson, president and CEO of Centennial College and other apprentices were also on-hand for the announcement.
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