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“You know, working with youth inspires me and keeps me young.”

Raymond ‘Ray’ Massey

Raymond ‘Ray’ Massey is a tireless champion of apprenticeship education and a lifelong advocate for the skilled trades. He is the former chair of the Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT) Board and the current president of Skills Canada Alberta, with a long list of additional boards and committees he has served on and roles he has played to advance the apprenticeship and skilled trades system in Alberta and nationally.

Ray’s path into the trades began as a painter and decorator apprentice, and he believes that having an employer that nudged him along made all the difference in the world.

“I got lucky because I got an employer who actually believed in hiring and training apprentices. I had a good employer, which was really the key,” says Ray.

Ray started his own commercial painting and decorating business in 1982, which he ran for 34 years before retiring in 2011. It was during that time that he became involved in the AIT Industry Network, spending 12 years on the painter and decorator Local Apprenticeship Committee (LAC) and 11 years on the Provincial Apprenticeship Committee (PAC). This experience fuelled Ray’s interest in the larger apprenticeship and skilled trades system.

“As an apprentice going through the system, I knew what I was doing, but I really didn’t understand the infrastructure behind it,” says Ray, “So when I got involved with the LAC, I got to know a little bit more, and my appetite got a lot bigger at that point.”

In 2010, Ray became the Chair of the AIT Board, a role he held for 6 years. Through his leadership during that time, Ray ensured every voice in every corner of the province was heard and valued. He led the board through the creation of the cathodic protection occupation, changes to trade ratio requirements, enhancing entrance requirements for apprenticeship programs, and the industry champions initiative, which brings senior industry leaders together to commit to ensuring that 10% of their workforce consists of apprentices. These are just a few of Ray’s accomplishments as board chair.

Throughout his time as AIT board chair, Ray was also involved in the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship, serving as an advisor and as a member of many committees to ensure the high standards in trades training across Canada. He worked on the Foreign Credential Recognition Committee, creating a framework for how Canadian jurisdictions could evaluate foreign credentials and recommending steps to recognize foreign credentials. He was also part of the Communications & Promotions Committee that worked to create the Red Seal Endorsed (RSE) designation. As part of the Harmonization Committee, Ray worked to standardize apprenticeship training across Canada.

Ray is also a champion of the skills movement through his decades-long association with Skills Canada Alberta, Skills Canada (national), and WorldSkills. He first got involved while serving on the PAC, working to increase the visibility of the painter and decorator trade. The PAC approached Skills Canada Alberta to add a Painter and Decorator competition. Before long, Ray was running the world competition at the World Skills competition in Calgary in 2009, where his own apprentice was a competitor. He continues to be committed to supporting Skills programs that influence the next generation of skilled workers.

“There’s several passions that I have in life, but working with youth is one of them,” he says, “You know, working with youth inspires me and keeps me young.”

In the same way Ray advocates for a strong apprenticeship system, he is committed to supporting Skills programs that influence the next generation of skilled workers. He is currently the president of Skills Canada Alberta and sits as a director on the board of Skills Canada (national). Through his involvement with Skills organizations, Ray is working to create parity of esteem in skilled trades and technologies for youth in Alberta and those who compete nationally and internationally.

In 2019, Ray was appointed to the Government of Alberta’s Skills for Jobs Task Force. The task force was appointed to find ways to expand and strengthen apprenticeship education and skilled trades opportunities to meet labour demands. Ray worked with the task force to provide the Minister of Advanced Education with recommendations to modernize apprenticeship education, strengthen and improve culture and perception of trades and apprenticeship, and expand current apprenticeship program offerings. As a result of these recommendations, the Alberta legislature passed the Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Education Act in June 2021. This legislation will repeal and replace the more than 30-year-old Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act to create a more flexible, responsive apprenticeship and skilled trades system in Alberta.

“My journey in apprenticeship and in the skills movement has been beyond belief, and I’m so grateful to have been apart of it and to continue to be a part of it,” Ray says.

Ray lives in Calgary with his wife. They enjoy spending time with their 3 children and their families. In the summer, Ray enjoys camping, hiking and attending Calgary Stampeders games. During the winter months, he enjoys cross country skiing.

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