Welcome to the site; I hope you find it informative. I'll discuss a wide variety of trades-related topics that reflect my own path in the trades, and issues relevant to what is happening with the new "College of Trades" here in the province of Ontario. Be sure to check older posts, and I'd welcome your comments


Monday, November 23, 2009

Apprenticeship Ratio's & The College of Trades

I've posted a couple times about the new Ontario College of Trades recently instituted by the McGinty government. One of the first issues to be tackled is the 3:1 ratio of journeymen to apprentices. In my day the ratio was 1:1, and with all the concern about boomers like myself retiring, there is no way to graduate new journeymen, considering the attrition rate between sign-up and completion, without dealing with the ratio. I don't know the history on why it was changed, and would be very interested in any assistance in finding out.

It's astonishing considering all the media coverage of "skilled worker shortages" that we're dealing with this at this time. The suggestion has been made that we should import tradesmen to fill the gap. No, let's get Ontario young people into apprenticeships!

This is definitely an issue the public needs to be aware of.

By the way, here's a link to a utube video clip of an evaluation of the new College of Trades that I feel makes several good points. It features the Conservative critic speaking prior to the bill's passing. I'm also waiting to talk to anyone in the trades who cares in the least, never mind be willing to part with $100. a year to fund it.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Electrical Advice Orillia

ElectricalAdvice Orillia is a new blog I've started, with a dual purpose; to pass on some of my experience to people living in the area of Orillia, Ontario who are thinking about electrical installations and upgrades in their homes. It won't be a "how-to" for the do-it-yourselfer, but about assisting in making wise decisions. It's also about promoting my electrical contracting business.

That said, I'm sure it will have a broader appeal to those living in other areas as well. Please take a look, and your comments as well are welcome!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

College of Trades

As I was working today on a medium sized commercial construction site, a $15m project with about 30 union and non-union workers installing steel studs and drywall, exterior stone work and electrical, I thought about what I had been reading and about what the guys on the job thought of it. I might ask the site super tomorrow if he knows anything about it, but apart from him I doubt any have heard of it.

The second question is, how much will the college of trades impact them. The answer should be, quite a lot, but I'm not so sure of that either. Apprentices perhaps, employers want more acceptable apprenticeship ratios. The average journeyman won't earn more, get better benefits or working conditions because of it.

Last comment; while recent immigrants should have a fairly easy path to getting to full employment, I really disagree with the idea that overseas recruitment is the answer to getting around worker shortage except perhaps in a few specific trades. It is much preferable to getting our own young people into the trades. Glutting the market, as has happened in the past, keeps wages down; they haven't increased around this area for years.

This is a topic we'll be watching for a long time.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ontario's College of Trades

Legislation has just been passed in the Province of Ontario that sets up a new body to govern and promote skilled trades. This new organisation parallels existing self governing bodies for lawyers, doctors and teachers, and is supposed to better trades conditions and regulate apprenticeship ratios and who may be certified to work in both restricted and non-restricted trades.

As a tradesman who promotes skilled trades, I find this announcement both surprising and interesting, but I also feel that there are many unanswered questions. I don't see a need for more McGinty interference in small business. Since he's been Premier, WSIB has begun a scramble to fill their empty coffers, and Department of Labour over-enforcement, in my view, is already causing enough havoc.

Certainly, the trades are overdue for an increase in status, but my personal research into the realities of such efforts, usually for professionalisation, find that one of the main results is increasing fees to fund an oversized, over staffed head office; and I'm not alone in that concern. Such efforts never result in a pure gain, but rather a tradeoff whereby professional status is gained at a cost of independence. Also, a point that has been raised elsewhere, is that there must be an appropriate balance between union and non-union agendas. Just because non-union trades aren't organised as a group does not mean that their perspective and needs are any less valid.

I'm not anti-union; but I am concerned that it will be difficult for non-union voices to be heard over the well organized and funded union lobby who have already had time to prepare their case.

It does seem to be the intent that jouneymen, apprentices, and employers will have the lion's share of voice in trades affairs, and if that is actually the case, I see benefit. More to come on this issue, and hopefully from a positive angle. I'm all for promoting the trades!

Here's a link from a fellow blogger that comments, and includes leads to the government postings. Very timely reading.