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Thursday , 13 May 2021
Lakeland Connect File Photo

Government of Alberta modernizing apprenticeship education and skilled trades

Alberta’s government will update apprenticeship education and skilled trades governance.

If passed, the government stated that the Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Education Act will replace the Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT) Act, which was introduced in 1991 and no longer meets the needs of industry, employers, apprentices or post-secondary institutions.

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.

“This new act serves as a fresh start for skilled trades and apprenticeship education in our province. It lays the foundation for a flexible system, allowing us to respond to needs and trends among our workforce, and will promote the equal value of apprenticeship education with other forms of post-secondary education,” Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education said.

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.

The changes in the new legislation will enable Alberta to expand apprenticeship education to other professions and high-demand occupations and modernize how skilled trades professions are governed. The changes will also serve as a foundation to ensure effective investment in education and training programs.

The new act implements recommendations from the Skills for Jobs Task Force and will update the legal framework for apprenticeship education and regulated trade professions. The act also aligns with the goals of Alberta 2030 – Building Skills for Jobs strategy, which will build a common vision and direction for post-secondary education in the province.

David Ross is the president and chief executive officer of SAIT and co-chair of the Skills for Jobs Task Force.

“We are pleased the government is implementing recommendations put forward by the Skills for Jobs Task Force. Importantly, this new legislation elevates the value of an applied education and the careers and opportunities available within skilled trades,” Ross said. “It will also provide the means to accelerate the talent growth of our learners to create a skilled workforce vital to the prosperity of our province.”

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 and approximately 4,400 individuals completed their programs. During this time 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. During this time, more than 1,000 scholarships totalling $1 million were awarded to Alberta apprentices. Ryan Morstad, is the president of the SAIT Students’ Association and is a board member of the Alberta Students’ Executive Council (ASEC).
“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,” Morstad said.

Stakeholder engagement regarding new regulations for the act will begin once legislation has passed.

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About Arthur C. Green

Arthur C. Green is from Whitbourne Newfoundland and graduated from the CNA Journalism Program. Arthur also studied Business Marketing and Political Science at Memorial University in Essex England and St. John's Newfoundland. Green has worked for such organizations as CBC, CBC Radio, NTV, Saltwire, Great West Media, CKLB Radio, Vista Radio, and Postmedia. He also loves Jiggs Dinner!