Building Magazine


New research indicates labour/management partnerships get better results

Skilled worker training centres that are a partnership of labour and management are found to be more successful in helping apprentices become journeypersons, says a new study commissioned by the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS).

The report, titled Completion Counts: Raising Apprenticeship Completion Rates to Address Skills Shortages in Ontario’s Construction Industry found that a full three-quarters of apprentices being trained through a Joint Apprentice Training Trust (JATT) will complete their program and achieve a Certificate of Qualification, compared to 58 per cent who receive their training in other less supportive environments.

“Ontario’s union-employer training centres are an integral and growing piece of the province’s jobs training infrastructure,” says Sean Strickland, Chief Executive Officer of the OCS. “Union-employer training partnerships deliver better results. We see this in the number of union apprentices who complete their training and earn their certificate of qualification to become a journeyperson.”

There is a significant gap in the number of people who register as apprentices and those who complete the program to become journeypersons, which OCS says is a real problem for the Ontario economy as highly skilled workers create a competitive advantage through greater productivity and innovation. It also indicates that there is a limited return on investment in training new skilled tradespeople.

According to the research and analysis conducted by the Apprenticeship Research Group, a consortium of Prism Economics, Professor Morley Gunderson and Ipsos Reid, the unique partnership between construction labour unions and their contractor partners ensures apprentices have the resources they need to complete their tenure and become journeypersons. This collaborative approach provides not only technical and hands-on training; it also supports the apprentice throughout their apprenticeship.

The success of labour-management partnerships points to a new apprenticeship strategy that is aimed at flowing public dollars to those organizations that are most efficient in achieving results – “graduating” apprentices. Creating an environment where more apprentices graduate from their program and receive a Certificate of Qualification is a win-win for all stakeholders.

Apprentices are rewarded for completing their program through higher wages, portable certification and improved career prospects. Employers gain through increased productivity and a greater return on their investment and government achieves their objective of ensuring Ontario has a highly skilled workforce.

Policy initiatives would focus on three key areas:

1.         Provincial commitment to the Canada Job Grant that encourages apprenticeship completion;

2.         Implementation of  procurement policies that encourage work for apprentices on all public infrastructure projects including provincially funded projects in municipalities, hospitals, universities and colleges; and

3.         Leverage the investment and success currently achieved through joint labour-management partnerships.

“The industry-led approach to apprenticeship training often provides a high degree of trade specialization and creates a training culture,” says Strickland. “The result is custom-built facilities and programs that are designed, equipped and structured to provide the optimal conditions for delivering trade-specific training.”

For more information on the OCS, visit

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