Ontario’s unionized construction sector sets pace for investment in training

According to Training Investment in Ontario’s Construction Industry, a new report from the Ontario Construction Secretariat, contractors and labour unions in the construction trades invested $146 million in training in 2019.The investment is an increase of 261 per cent over the past decade, and a three-fold increase since 2006. They also invested $325 million between 2013 and 2019 in capital upgrades for training facilities and equipment.

“Investing in the training and development of a well-educated, highly skilled workforce meets current and future demands of the economy,” says Robert Bronk, Chief Executive Officer of the OCS. “Apprentices are critical for the future of our construction industry. Every dollar we spend to ensure they are trained to not only do the job, but do it safely, is a dollar well spent.”

The report’s data,which was collected and compiled by Prism Economics and Analysis, is from 2019 and does not capture the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on apprentice registration and completion. However, the data does provide an important baseline for examining the impact of COVID-19 on construction apprenticeship completions and registrations in Ontario.

The unionized construction sector delivers 61 training programs in 40 training facilities — jointly funded by trade unions and contractors — certified by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities as a Training Delivery Agent for apprenticeships. Roughly one-third of construction apprentices are getting their training in a unionized training facility — up from 23 per cent a decade ago.

Workers in Ontario’s Building Trades Unions and their employer partners contribute, on average, 58 cents of every hour worked to delivering apprenticeship training, skills upgrading and health and safety training.

The report also found a record 10,485 apprentice registrations in 2019, up 32 per cent from 2010, and that apprentice completions have increased 75% per cent since 2010.

“Research has demonstrated the return on this collective investment with evidence of higher rates of apprentices competing their program sponsored by both their employer and their trade union compared to apprentices sponsored only by their employer,” says Mr. Bronk.

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