Ontario must commit to doubling apprenticeship completion rate

(MARKHAM, May 7, 2009) - The Ontario government must protect apprenticeship training during the recession and commit to doubling the number of people who successfully complete apprenticeship programs by 2020, says a new report from business, education and labour leaders.

“Apprenticeship training in Ontario was falling behind during the good times and is particularly at risk during this recession,” said Ian Howcroft, vice-president, Ontario division, of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters. “To ensure Ontario has the skilled workforce it needs to support an economic recovery, the province must protect apprenticeship training and take immediate steps to help greater numbers of people complete their apprenticeship programs.”

The call to improve apprenticeship training is among the recommendations in Workforce Requirements: Recession and Recovery, a report released today by Ontario’s Workforce Shortage Coalition. The coalition consists of 22 organizations representing more than 100,000 employers and millions of employees.

About 150,000 people in Ontario traditionally participate in apprenticeship programs each year but less than one-third actually complete them, due to issues such as literacy and numeracy challenges. Furthermore, many employers are dropping their apprenticeship programs due to the recession.

This is leaving Ontario with a shortage of qualified people for many trades - a situation that is challenging now and will get worse after the recession has ended.

Ontario can take immediate steps to strengthen apprenticeship training. For example, the province can extend the Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit to include programs currently not covered in areas such as hospitality. Ontario can also improve the success rate for apprentices by increasing the in-class training time for apprentices and by providing continuing education classes to address language and numeracy challenges.

The report released today addresses the immediate and long-term economic challenges facing Ontario. While the province is struggling to get through the global recession, Ontario also faces a skills shortage over the longer term once the economy rebounds and as the baby boomers retire. Ontario faces a shortage of more than 360,000 skilled employees by 2025 and a shortage of more than 560,000 skilled employees by 2030.

The report’s recommendations follow consultations with individuals and businesses throughout Ontario. More than 700 government, business, union and education leaders have been consulted in symposia and meetings.

In addition to the call for more apprenticeship graduates, the report sets targets for 2020 that include:

– More than 75 per cent of adults age 25 to 34 should have postsecondary credential

– At least 35 per cent of employees throughout Ontario participating in training each year

– Significantly increasing postsecondary credentials among under-represented groups, such as aboriginals and people with disabilities.

Ontario’s Workforce Shortage Coalition was established in 2007 to address the skills challenges facing employers throughout the economy. The coalition is comprised of:

  • Alliance of Ontario Food Processors
  • Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association
  • Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
  • Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association
  • College Student Alliance
  • Colleges Ontario
  • Council of Ontario Construction Associations
  • Greater Toronto Hotel Association
  • Ontario Aerospace Council
  • Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists
  • Ontario Chamber of Commerce
  • Ontario Environment Industry Association
  • Ontario General Contractors Association
  • Ontario Marine Operators Association
  • Ontario Mining Association
  • Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association
  • Ontario Tourism Council
  • Power Workers’ Union
  • Retail Council of Canada
  • Skills Canada - Ontario
  • Toronto Financial Services Alliance

“Our goal is to help Ontario develop a comprehensive strategy to produce the best workforce possible,” said Linda Franklin, president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. “For Ontario to be competitive, we must ensure every employee is making a meaningful contribution in the workplace.”

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For more information:

Sally Ritchie
Senior Communications Officer
Colleges Ontario
(416) 596-0744, ext. 242

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