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Building a Skilled Workforce with Portable Skill Sets

Backgrounder

Building a Skilled Workforce with Portable Skill Sets

The Modernizing the Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2019 is transforming the apprenticeship and skilled trades system across the province.

The Ontario government is transforming the current training framework to allow for faster, competency-based training for apprentices and cross-skilling through the trades. The new framework is based on portable skill sets.

The government will work with industry and tradespeople to implement a portable skills set model, allowing tradespeople to get trained faster, and give them the skills to practice their trade safely. Training and certifying apprentices in portable skill sets will allow tradespeople and industry to better meet the needs of a rapidly changing economy, and will also allow for employers of small- and medium-sized businesses to more easily hire apprentices.

Challenges with Current Training Model

Currently, Ontario's tradespeople are required to master the full scope of a trade to complete an apprenticeship and obtain certification. For example, to be certified as a general carpenter (403A), an apprentice is required to complete 7,200 hours of training, made up of 6,480 on-the-job and 720 in-class, and train in all aspects of the trade. Once the apprenticeship training is complete, individuals must write and pass the trade's Certificate of Qualification exam to become a certified journeyperson.

This system can be onerous and lengthy for apprentices and employers alike, making it difficult for apprentices to find jobs, and employers to fill job vacancies.

An Industry-Informed, Made in Ontario Approach

The development of portable skill sets training and certification will be industry-informed. The Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities will appoint one or more training and skills advisors to engage stakeholders and industry in designing a new system based on basic or core skills within a trade, or skills that span across and between multiple trades. For example, the training standards for general carpenter, construction boilermaker, and sheet metal worker trades all include the skill of erecting and dismantling scaffolding. Under the portable skill sets model, an apprentice or journeyperson could be certified in erecting and dismantling scaffolding and work in a variety of industries or trades with just this skill right away, with the option of completing further training later.

The portable skill sets model will help apprentices get trained and working faster - without compromising health and safety. Apprentices will be able to train in the exact skills that an employer or job requires. They can also choose to continue their training for the full trade or in other skills at a later time.

Helping to Cut Red Tape for Apprentices and Tradespeople

The portable skill sets model will provide flexibility to apprentices. An apprentice could get experience and training for skills the labour market needs immediately. Portable skill sets will also offer wider employment opportunities to apprentices and skilled tradespeople. There are many trades where skills are transferable from one whole trade to another - for example, the general carpenter, construction boilermaker, and sheet metal worker trades all include the skill of erecting and dismantling scaffolding.

Under the proposed portable skill sets model, an apprentice or journeyperson could work in a variety of industries or trades and be trained in various skills across different trades depending on what they need to find a good job. 

Helping Employers Respond to Local Economic Demands

The portable skill sets model will help employers - particularly small- and medium- sized businesses - to more readily take on apprentices. Employers will be able to hire and train apprentices for the skills they need and for the jobs they have.

Previously, small- or medium-sized businesses may not have taken on apprentices if they were unable to train in a full scope of a trade. In addition, businesses may have had labour needs requiring them to hire several different tradespeople for the type of work needed.

Employers will be able to train apprentices in the specific skills needed, tailor training to their own businesses, and may be in a better position to retain an apprentice.

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