Proposed changes to apprenticeship

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

Trades are an important part of many industries in Slave Lake, from mechanics to hairdressers. Also, Northern Lakes College offers carpentry, electrician, and welder training.

As of April 13, 2021, the Alberta government has tabled a new act which governs trades, says a news release. This is the Bill 67 – Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Education Act. If it passes, it will replace the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act from 1991.

Apprenticeship programs are a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction.

Alberta Advanced Education says, “Designated trades have an apprenticeship program … It has either a compulsory or optional certification.”

For example, the list of trades on Alberta Advanced Education says an elevator constructor has a compulsory certificate, but a cook has an optional one.

The Act has four reasons that it was developed – one is “the Government of Alberta believes that expanding apprenticeship education programs to provide education and training for careers beyond designated trades professions is desirable to respond to labour market demand.”

In the news release, Alberta Students’ Executive Council (ASEC) board member and SAIT Students’ Association president Ryan Morstad says, “ASEC is happy to see an expansion of apprenticeship beyond the skilled trades. Providing students with apprenticeship, work-integrated learning, and community service learning opportunities increases the value of an Alberta education.”

After the Act passes (if it does), the government plans to meet with stakeholders about the nuts and bolts of turning the legislation into regulations to govern apprenticeship education in Alberta.

The new legislation came out of a Skills for Jobs Task Force, says the news release.

“The Skills for Jobs Task Force re-imagined Alberta’s skills development and apprenticeship model,” says Glenn Feltham Grande Prairie Regional College interim president, and Skills for Jobs Task Force co-chair.

After the act passes (if it does), the government plans to do stakeholder engagement to develop regulations to govern apprenticeship education in Alberta.

Quick facts
(From the news release)

According to BuildForce Canada projections, Alberta’s construction and maintenance industry will need to hire almost 65,000 workers over the coming decade to meet growth expectations and replace an estimated 41,500 workers expected to retire.

Alberta has seen its registered apprentice numbers drop from more than 70,000 to about 45,000 over six years, a decrease of more than 35 per cent, mostly in relation to Alberta’s prolonged economic downturn.

Approximately 7,820 new apprentices were registered in 2020, a decrease from the 11,627 new apprentices who began their program in 2019.

In 2020:

Apprentices were learning on the job at more than 11,000 employer sites around Alberta.

Approximately 4,400 individuals completed their programs.

Advanced Education staff connected with more than 15,000 employer shops to promote apprenticeship programs and work with employers and apprentices to ensure the successful completion of apprenticeship education.

More than 1,000 scholarships totalling $1 million were awarded to Alberta apprentices.

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