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Alberta proposes trades training changes

Alberta proposes trades training changes
PROVINCE OF ALBERTA — Alberta government officials meet with welding students.

CALGARY — Proposed legislation in Alberta is looking to create a more flexible skilled trades training system.

According to the province, the Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Education Act would replace the Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT) Act, which was introduced in 1991.

Officials say the AIT no longer meets the needs of industry, employers, apprentices or post-secondary institutions.

The province argues 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 legislation would also be intended to serve as a foundation to ensure effective investment in education and training programs.

The changes stem from recommendations made by the province’s Skills for Jobs Task Force and will update the legal framework for apprenticeship education and regulated trade professions. The act was also designed to align with the goals of Alberta 2030 – Building Skills for Jobs strategy.

“This new act serves as a fresh start for skilled trades and apprenticeship education in our province,” said Demetrios Nicolaides, minister of advanced education, in a statement. “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.”

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. Officials say this is mostly in relation to Alberta’s prolonged economic downturn.

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