NL Government Advances Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Opportunities

1/2/2013

The Provincial Government made significant progress in 2012 to help people take advantage of new opportunities in the area of skilled trades and to ensure a highly-qualified workforce to meet industry demands.

“The successes we had in 2012, from improving our province’s apprenticeship system to identifying opportunities where Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can partner to strengthen our labour force, are the reasons we created the Department of Advanced Education and Skills,” said the Honourable Joan Shea, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills. “In the nine years of this administration, we’ve been gathering the expertise and insights of people across business, labour, education and other key sectors to provide strategies that will lead to solutions. This is exactly what we are doing and we are determined to keep the momentum going."

Improving Skills Training and the Apprenticeship System
With numerous large-scale labour projects in development such as Muskrat Falls, there continues to be a high demand for skilled tradespersons in the province’s energy, mining and industrial sectors. The Provincial Government is investing more than $48 million annually to support apprentices. Since 2007, the number of registered apprentices in Newfoundland and Labrador has risen from 3,464 to 5,782, an increase of 67 per cent. In that same time, the number of journeyperson certificates issued annually has risen from 340 to 557, an increase of 64 per cent.

In 2012, over $4 million in funding supported the Journeyperson Mentorship Program and other initiatives to advance apprenticeship opportunities in skilled trades in Newfoundland and Labrador:

Expansion of the Apprenticeship Wage Subsidy Program that helps provide work experience to apprentices, with a focus on first and second-year apprentices including those from under-represented groups such as women and persons with disabilities; and,
Registration of pre-apprentices and apprentices in a tracking system to assist students completing entry-level skilled trades programs to assist in securing employment and progress to journeyperson status.

The Provincial Government has been implementing a number of additional measures to position the province and its workforce to meet a growing demand for labour and capitalize on emerging opportunities:

Ensuring education in the skilled trades is more accessible and affordable through an ongoing tuition freeze at Memorial University and College of the North Atlantic;

Increasing the ratio of apprentices to journeypersons to two-to-one (three-to-one if at least one of the apprentices is in the final year of their apprenticeship);
Partnering with Operating Engineers College to operate a Tower Crane Operating program to train 30 students to address an identified need to ensure there are enough operators for the Hebron Project; and,
Expanding the Youth Apprenticeship Program, which provides high school students the opportunity to gain skilled trades work experience, from five schools to 10.

The Journeyperson Mentorship Program
In November, the Provincial Government launched the Journeyperson Mentorship Program – an initiative designed to meet the growing demand for skilled labour. With an investment of $2 million, the program provides assistance to eligible employers to hire a journeyperson mentor so more apprentices can secure journeyperson status. Preference is given to:

Under-represented groups who have traditionally faced barriers to employment such as women, Aboriginal persons and persons with disabilities;
Regional distribution, with an emphasis on rural Newfoundland and Labrador; and, High-demand trades.

“Along with making huge investments in apprenticeship and training, the Provincial Government continues to deliver a post-secondary education system that is second to none,” said Minister Shea. “Through our ongoing tuition freeze at Memorial University and College of the North Atlantic and by helping students reduce their debt – measures which have been applauded by our young people and recognized across Canada – we will ensure that we remain responsive with an education and training system that can carry us into the future.”

(Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)