Alberta, Ontario partnering to boost skilled trades

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Photo caption –  Rajan Sawhney, Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education and Ontario Minister of Labour David Piccini shaking hands after signing a Memorandum of Understanding at the McDougall Centre in Calgary on July 5. (Credit: Aspen Films)

CaDCR staff writer

The governments of Alberta and Ontario have signed a new agreement that aims to improve the recognition of international skilled trades credentials in order to fill gaps in the skilled labour market.

“Ontario needs hundreds of thousands of additional skilled trades workers over the next decade to build homes, hospitals and highways,” said David Piccini, Ontario Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Working together with Alberta, we’re sharing knowledge and expertise on international credential recognition, removing barriers to skilled workers filling in-demand jobs and building our communities.”

The two provinces work together to develop a framework for international credential recognition for skilled trades. This will include sharing information and expertise to expand the international credential recognition process and support the mobility of internationally skilled workers.

Also, the agreement attempts to remove barriers to the recognition of international credentials by developing a common framework for the process. This could help to create a more skilled and dynamic labour market in both provinces.

“Ontario’s skilled trades offer great careers for people from all backgrounds. Streamlining the recognition of international credentials will help remove barriers so that more skilled workers can enter the trades. With this MOU, Ontario and Alberta will work together to build a stronger skilled trades workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Dave Cassidy, Skilled Trades Special Advisor.

International credential recognition and post-journeyperson credentials and certification are key strategies to meet several Advanced Education mandate items, including:

  • Increase and accelerate auto-credentialing for workers from national and international jurisdictions with similar standards;
  • In the context of skilled trades, take a leadership role in meeting the evolving needs of the economy with a focus on ensuring journeypersons obtain needed skills for the modern economy;
  • Act as Alberta’s lead advocate and champion of the skilled trades and professions to ensure, as early as junior high, that this education track has parity of esteem as a desirable education pathway that will lead to highly rewarding careers; and
  • Advance key recommendations from the Skills for Jobs Task Force Report pertaining to Advanced Education.

In Ontario, Skilled Trades Ontario (STO) is responsible for assessing whether the experience and qualifications obtained by applicants for an Ontario certificate of qualification are equivalent to those received through completing an Ontario apprenticeship program.

Skilled Trades Ontario’s Trade Equivalency Assessment is the first step towards obtaining a Certificate of Qualification for experienced workers who have not completed an Ontario apprenticeship but who have equivalent skills and experience.

“This agreement marks a significant step forward in addressing the skilled labour shortage in Alberta,” said Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Advanced Education in Alberta. “By expanding our international credential recognition and working with our partners in the Government of Ontario, we can welcome more talented individuals and ensure our economy remains competitive and dynamic.”

The Ontario government has introduced new legislation that supports and worker protections that would open pathways into the skilled trades and remove barriers to employment. This would be done by making the foreign credential system outcomes-oriented by requiring regulated professions to have a policy to accept alternatives where standard registration-related documents cannot be obtained for reasons beyond an applicant’s control, such as war or natural disasters.

If passed, Ontario would be the first province in Canada to have this legislation.

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