Apprenticeship training has long been a key strategic initiative at the International Foundation. Over the years, we’ve engaged in a number of partner initiatives with the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA), and in mid-June International Foundation staff members, including myself, traveled to Montreal to attend the CAF-FCA National Apprenticeship Conference.
While there, the Foundation presented findings from our recent apprenticeship study [Top Trends in Apprenticeship Programs, 2018 Survey Results] examining apprenticeship program challenges, recruitment and retention initiatives, life skills initiatives, financial literacy education, communication methods, instructor quality initiatives and partnerships. In addition, I got the chance to attend a number of engaging sessions and took away many valuable insights.
Here are five key takeaways on the future of Canadian apprenticeship training programs.
Essential Skills Initiatives Support Apprentice Success
Program sponsors must ensure that their apprentices have a strong base of essential skills, including communication, reading, numeracy and digital skills. Those with deficits in these areas have significant consequences on skilled trades worksites, leading apprentices to abandon their training which impacts productivity and leads to potential safety issues. Representatives from Ottawa Community Coalition for Literacy, Kallio Consulting, and the Alberta Workforce Essential Skills Society stressed the need for essential skills by reminding attendees that 42% of Canadian adults do not have the literacy skills to fully cope in today’s technological and information-based society.
The Impact of Technology on the Skilled Trades Cannot Be Overstated
Dr. Ken Coates, Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the University of Saskatchewan, gave a thought-provoking keynote presentation discussing the role of technology in skilled trades training in the future. Dr. Coates argued that future success rests on the ability of tradespeople, training institutions, apprenticeship and accreditation programs, corporations and government agencies to anticipate, respond to and capitalize upon the latest innovations. He argued that a responsive, well-informed and technologically proficient trades sector is central to economic and commercial development.
Canadian Apprentices Observe Higher Earnings Than Post Secondary Graduates Five Years After Certification
At the conference, three researchers from Statistics Canada discussed linkages created between the Registered Apprenticeship Information System (RAIS) and tax data that have allowed researchers to take deep dives into data addressing labour market returns of the apprenticeship system, success rates and apprentice mobility between provinces. A key finding from their research: Canadian apprentices observe higher earnings than post secondary graduates five years after certification.
Apprenticeship Programs Continue to Make Recruiting and Retaining Indigenous Peoples a Priority
Representatives from the Saskatchewan Building Trades, Trade Winds to Success, IBEW, LiUNA and the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario hosted a panel discussion addressing success stories and challenges in their work with members of the indigenous community. While progress has been made to recruit and retain indigenous peoples in the building trades, there is still significant work to be done.
Apprenticeship Stakeholders Are Focused on Technology, Diversity, Training, Skills and Employer/Apprentice Expectations
The conference kicked off with an interactive session in which attendees shared their insights on a wide variety of high-level topics—illustrating just how varied and comprehensive the current focus of today’s apprenticeship programs is. I found especially interesting discussions on the use of digital devices, generational differences in the trades and youth perceptions of apprenticeship. Diversity in recruiting and retaining apprentices continues to be a top focus for apprenticeship programs and CAF-FCA will be shining a spotlight on attracting and supporting women in the skilled trades at their upcoming Supporting Women’s in Trade Conference in November 2018.
Justin Held, CEBS
Senior Research Analyst at the International Foundation