Editorial – June 2013
A collective yawn
By Patrick Flannery
The Ontario glass construction industry couldn’t rouse itself to respond
to the Ontario College of Trades’ ratio review process for its
Architectural Glass and Metal Technician category.
The Ontario glass construction industry couldn’t rouse itself to respond to the Ontario College of Trades’ ratio review process for its Architectural Glass and Metal Technician category.
This was the process where the College gave industry a chance to have input on the ratios which will govern apprenticeships for the next four years. The Ontario ratio was left unchanged at one apprentice allowed for the first journeyperson employed, and one additional apprentice for every two journeypeople employed after that. Only Quebec has a higher journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio, yet only the Ontario Glaziers Apprenticeship and Training Committee (a part of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades) and the Ontario Homebuilders’ Association bothered to make submissions for the review hearing.
According to the OGATC, which controls the apprenticeship program today on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities, everything is hunky-dory. The trade is growing along with the boom in glass construction and young people are lining up to fill the available apprenticeship positions. Oh, they could do a little better at getting apprentices to actually finish their apprenticeships and write their Certificates of Qualification, but that doesn’t really matter as experienced apprentices make 95 per cent of what a journeyperson makes anyway. I know that many in Ontario’s glass construction trade do not share the OGATC’s halcyon view of the state of availability of skilled trades, but you would never know it based on the evidence presented to the College.
The OHB called for a straight 1:1 ratio across the board, but ended up admitting in the review hearings that it was really only addressing the low-rise residential side of the business and that its submission had little bearing on the commercial and high-rise sides of the trade. Interestingly, the College and the OHB agreed that the present regulatory framework, which lumps low-rise residential workers in with high-rise and commercial glaziers, is probably flawed. The OHB and the College also agreed that the entire process was nearly irrelevant to the low-rise industry, as journeypersons and apprentices are almost non-existent in that sector any more. Considering the lack of interest in this process from the commercial glazing sector, one wonders if a similar situation might soon persist there, too.
The OCT has clearly failed, so far, to attract the interest and buy-in of the people and companies its clients will depend upon for jobs. This seems a shame, as the OCT offers the Ontario industry a chance to take control of its own labour force and increase the level of training and expertise across the board, on its own terms. Absent that buy-in, OCT bureaucrats will be faced with two choices: look for another job, or begin to whisper in the ears of their politician masters about the need for legislative change to make glazing trades compulsory.