NDP

Employers to Better Prepare Apprentices for More Jobs

July 25, 2013


Young Nova Scotians will soon get better apprenticeship training and more jobs here at home.

Employer and industry representatives released recommendations today to create an apprenticeship system that builds a highly skilled workforce for the growing job opportunities in the province. 

The representatives say too many apprentices are not completing their training, or are leaving home to do so. Having employers more involved and accountable will create more apprenticeship opportunities and improve support for apprentices from when they begin their training until they complete their Red Seal exams.

Labour and Advanced Education Minister Frank Corbett welcomed the recommendations. 

“Nova Scotians are facing some incredible opportunities here at home, and we want our young people to have the right training to take advantage of them,” he said.

“Employers must get more involved–hiring more of our young apprentices and ensuring their training prepares them for good jobs. Employers tell us they need more authority and leadership, and we’re listening.”

Currently, only 25 per cent of eligible employers participate in apprenticeship training.

The panel wants the province to create an arm’s-length agency. The agency would be involved in and accountable for planning, oversight, funding and resource allocations, and program outcomes. The agency would be supported by committees to deal with trade-specific issues, such as the ratio of apprentices to journey people.

“The recommendations are aimed at improving employer engagement and supports for apprentices through their entire training experience, so that they have the certification and skills needed for opportunities here at home,” said Heather Cruickshanks, co-owner, L. E. Cruickshanks Sheet Metal Ltd., and member of the Minister’s Advisory Panel on Apprenticeship. “The future of our business relies on well trained apprentices. It is in everyone’s best interest that they have the support and proper training to meet the needs of industry here in Nova Scotia.”

Presently, only about 45 per cent of apprentices who start their training complete it.

Devon Connors, a third-year sheet metal apprentice, said getting employers more involved is key to having more apprentices successfully complete their training.

“Employers give people like me a chance to learn all aspects of the trade, so I’m ready to take on the real work I’m training to do,” he said.

The panel also recommends:
— broadening the scope of the apprenticeship system to consider programs for students before they graduate to post-journey certification
— providing more equitable opportunities for under-represented groups
— assessing how resources are allocated 
— improving the match between training and labour market needs
— setting standards and monitoring performance
— supporting employers better and defining clear roles and responsibilities

Industry representatives will form an implementation team immediately to ensure a smooth transition. The province will also continue work on other priorities identified during the apprenticeship review.

For example, the province introduced a START program to encourage employers to hire Nova Scotians who require apprenticeship support. The province has matched 40 apprentices with employers to date under the START program.

The apprenticeship review involved industry groups, employers, tradespeople and apprentices. The minister also established a panel of industry representatives with a specific focus on employer engagement. The panel was supported by 17 representatives from employers, employees, unions, open shop (non-union), labour and industry.