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Alberta’s government is dedicated to strengthening trades and apprenticeship education. During the 2019 campaign, we committed to expanding apprenticeship learning and promoting parity of esteem between trades and academic learning.
Following through on another campaign promise, I commissioned the Skills for Jobs Task Force in the summer of 2019 to consult with industry and provide recommendations on achieving that parity of esteem and expanding the apprenticeship education model.
As part of their final report, the task force recommended drafting new legislation to provide a modern framework for apprenticeship learning in Alberta. They suggested that new legislation be principles-based, nimble and flexible, that system roles be clarified and strengthened, and that updates be made to the governance model.
With this expert advice, it was clear that new legislation was needed, and that is why I introduced Bill 67, the Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Education Act.
I firmly believe this new Bill will make Alberta a national and international leader in apprenticeship and trades education.
Firstly, the Act will enable the expansion of apprenticeship education to more careers.
As we prepare for the post-pandemic economic recovery, we must take every possible step to help Albertans reskill and upskill for the new economy. Should the legislation be passed, Alberta’s government will begin a comprehensive multi-year effort to expand apprenticeships into new careers. There is no reason why occupations such as coding, graphic design, cybersecurity, agriculture technology and more cannot be taught through an apprenticeship model.
In this regard, I am confident Alberta will lead Canada in creating new and modern apprenticeships.
Secondly, the new Act will create a nimble and modern framework for the skilled trades and apprenticeship education.
The current Act governing trades and apprenticeship education is over 30 years old and is too prescriptive. It can take years to update curriculum or to designate new trades. The task force summarized that “the regulatory environment restricts rather than empowers the system.”
Thirdly, the new Act will improve governance by establishing a new Board of Skilled Trades.
The new legislation will clarify roles between the board and government and ensure the new board has the flexibility and autonomy it needs to govern the skilled trades professions. In this regard, the task force identified the need to modernize system roles and governance models to reduce red tape and improve flexibility.
Fourthly, the Act will create the foundations to allow more educational options for Journeymen.
Currently, a completed apprenticeship certificate does not ladder into other academic programs in most cases. A Journeyman often receives little to no academic recognition. This lack of recognition ultimately limits the ability of trades professionals to pursue further education or shift into other career paths. The changes in the new Act will help address this issue and make Alberta a national leader in creating more opportunities for our trades professionals.
The Skills for Jobs Task Force served as a strong starting point for this new legislation. This group undertook significant stakeholder engagement to develop their recommendations.
I am confident that this new Bill will make Alberta a national and international leader in apprenticeship and trades education.
Should the legislation be passed, the Ministry will lead extensive consultation to develop the needed regulations. Alberta Advanced Education will spend the spring and summer months engaging with colleges and polytechnics, employers, unions, apprentices and others to build a new and modern apprenticeship system together.