Apprenticeship changes help address skills shortage

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MP Report, By Scott Armstrong

Atlantic Canada first to launch streamlining of apprenticeship training, accreditation

At the start of 2014 Canada has been ranked second in Bloomberg’s ranking of best places to do business. This year we passed the U.S., Germany and Japan. In fact, the list places only Hong Kong above Canada.

Our rise in this ranking has been attributed to our low corporate tax rates and slightly weakening dollar, which will help our export industry. This is good news, as we need to increase investment in Canada if we’re to continue to emerge from the recession and balance the budget in 2015.  However, investment and growth can only be achieved if we have the trained labour force to meet the demands of growth, particularly in our skilled trades sectors.

Employers across Canada have identified skills shortages as their number one challenge. This is true in Alberta, but employers in the Atlantic region have similar concerns. In fact, across the country hundreds of thousands of skilled trade positions went unfilled in 2013 causing projects to be delayed or cancelled. With the demographic challenge of our aging society and the projected growth of infrastructure and natural resource development in Canada, this challenge must be addressed.

Between now and 2024 it’s projected $650 billion in major resource projects will receive investments in Canada. These include hydroelectricity, mining, oil sands and liquefied natural gas. Canada is one of the few countries in the world that’s projecting such massive opportunity in the resource industries.

In addition, other sectors are projecting high skilled labour needs in the short term. In the construction trades, for example, 350,000 jobs will be seeking employees by 2020. Here in our region we have the Irving shipbuilding contract, the Labrador hydroelectric project and the West to East Pipeline, as well as several other major projects slated to start over the next few years.  However, in order for us benefit from this economic opportunity, we have to ensure we have the highly skilled labour force to meet this demand.

Education and training is a shared jurisdiction between the federal government and provinces, and recently the Atlantic provinces and the federal government announced changes in our local apprentice certification system so that apprentices from Atlantic Canada will be able to work and train more easily.

Currently in Canada there are 13 separate apprenticeship systems. Each has different requirements and expectations. In Canada, many of our skilled trades people move from province to province as they build up their certification hours and training blocks. Many face great difficulty in completing their training if they move from one system to another. The recent changes are a first step to address this in Atlantic Canada.

The Atlantic provinces and the federal government will work to streamline apprenticeship training, certification and standards, making them consistent across the region. This will make it easier for apprentices to complete their training. The federal government is investing $4,300,000 towards this project the provinces are committing $3,500,000 in staff time and operational support. A more harmonized system will allow more Atlantic Canadians to become certified and qualify for available jobs.

It’s the role of government to ensure we create a business climate that promotes investment and economic growth. Having a well-trained and available labour force is a major part of fostering this climate. Working with our provincial partners we hope to increased the alignment of apprenticeship training and certification so Canadians from coast to coast will be able to qualify for the hundreds of thousands of jobs that should be coming, many of them right here in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada.

As always, if you have questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact my office toll-free at 1-888-752-0552; visit my website at www.scottarmstrongmp.ca; add me as a friend on Facebook; or follow me on Twitter @Armstrong_MP.

Scott Armstrong is the Conservative MP for Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

Organizations: Bloomberg, West to East Pipeline

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, U.S., Germany Japan Hong Kong Alberta Nova Scotia Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley

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