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Trades college model will evolve, says Ontario’s Minister of Training

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by Vince Versace

The recommendations and legislation designed to establish the College of Trades does not mean its structure is set in stone, says Ontario’s minister of training, colleges and universities (MTCU).

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Consultation with stakeholders ongoing

The recommendations and legislation designed to establish the College of Trades does not mean its structure is set in stone, says Ontario’s minister of training, colleges and universities (MTCU).

“The legislation will set up the skeleton that allows the (college) to develop roles, approaches and criteria to evolve over time to best reflect the industry and the interest of all the players,” says John Milloy, MTCU minister. “This is not a bill that will end with a turnkey operation, where everything is set and prescribed.”

Early feedback about the college from industry players — ranging from employers to the trades — include concerns that its structure could be too bureaucratic and leaves too much power in the hands of an appointments council.

There are also questions about the recommended approach to dealing with the difficult issues of apprentice ratios and compulsory certification.

The legislation has passed second reading and has been sent to committee, which will gear up again in mid-September after the summer break.

Milloy, in an interview with the Daily Commercial News, says the College of Trades report, developed by Kevin Whitaker, college implementation advisor, provides the backbone of the legislation that was created through extensive consultation with a “good number of stakeholders.”

“What (the legislation) does is provide a framework. There is an opportunity when it is up and running for the stakeholders to have a very clear voice in how it is going to evolve,” he says. “A lot of the operational questions will be developed through discussion and consultation when the college is up and running.”

MTCU will begin holding technical briefings on the college with stakeholders next week. Stakeholders will be able to ask further questions about the proposed legislation during the briefings. The structure of the college is not unique for such an arms-length body, says the minister.

“The college structure is not one that came out of thin air. It came out of consultation and also reflects what we have done with a number of other colleges in terms of philosophy and approach but obviously this college is different,” says Milloy.

“There are established approaches to putting these colleges together and Kevin did an extensive consultation.”

Milloy believes that the college’s evolution through its appointees and staff will help create an arms-length body that will address training and apprenticeship issues effectively and efficiently.

“There will be a personal dynamic to this — there is a fair amount of excitement and interest in the college,” says Milloy. “We are looking for some good people to come forward for the formal roles and also informally supporting the college.”

The minister notes that the “legislation is substantive” and it provides a clear roadmap for what the college will look like and how it will function. What it does not do is solve all the issues facing the construction, services, industrial and motive power sectors represented in the college in one broad stroke.

“Although the basic structure is there, there will be a variety of issues we will be looking to industry to come forward with advice and suggestions and participation,” Milloy says.

“We are setting this up but there is a lot of work left to be done. Everyone will have an ongoing role in helping shape the college itself.”

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