New report highlights the importance of employer incentives in Ontario’s skills training system

On October 28, 2021, Dawson Strategic published a new report Going Further: Examining Employer Incentives in Ontario’s Skills Training System, which was commissioned by the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance (OSTA). In the report, authors Jeffrey Phillips and René Drolet argue that financial and non-financial incentives for skilled trades employers of compulsory and voluntary trades must be a key consideration as Ontario works to build a modern and client-focused skills training system. Looking at the issue through the lens of Ontario’s construction industry, the report finds that:

  • About 75% of Ontario’s construction industry is comprised of voluntary trades and employers of these trades are often not benefitting from the same purposefully designed financial incentives that exist for compulsory trades.
  • Facilitating access to financial and non-financial incentives, particularly for small- and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs), is critical.
  • It is an opportune time to revisit the tax system as a tool for delivering employer incentives.
  • The new Skilled Trades Ontario (STO) presents an opportunity to strengthen non-financial incentives for employers by delivering an open and simplified experience.
  • There is a need for a sustained and focused dialogue on incentives between all key stakeholders, including an assessment of the current suite of measures vis-à-vis industry needs.

There is an opportunity for government, industry, and other stakeholders to build on the recent reforms to Ontario’s apprenticeship and skills training system and work together so that employers continue to invest in skills training over the long-term.