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Apprenticeship and Trade Certification

Apprenticeship is an industry-driven training process that leads to certification in a designated trade. Apprenticeship training and trade certification ensure workers develop skills that industry and society need. Apprenticeship and skilled trades training contribute to the development of a skilled Labour force. Building that skilled labour force requires the co-operation of industry, both business and labour, Education and training institutions, governments, and labour-market partners.

As work evolves to meet challenges within the economy, there is an increasing demand for well-educated and skilled workers. Historically, skilled trades have been viewed as physically demanding and labour intensive, and a response to the local economy. With advances in technology and global marketing systems, the trades today are involved with computerized systems, robotics, and meeting the demands of a just-in-time and “on-line” society.

The work of apprentices and tradespeople is visible throughout the community and the trades are basic to our standard of living. To address challenges brought about by the evolution in the marketplace, the apprenticeship system has designated new trades and sub-trades; reviewed and maintained relevant curricula; developed innovative and flexible training delivery; and broadened its partnerships in training and certification, provincially and nationally.

Apprenticeships are implemented when an employer wants a skilled worker and a worker wants to learn the skills of the trade. An individual must be working in a trade to access apprenticeship training. An apprentice is an employee. The employer and the individual employee sign a training agreement or contract and register the contract with the provincial government (the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission). The apprenticeship contract outlines the period of training and the responsibilities of the employer, the employee (apprentice), and the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission.

Apprenticeship training ranges from two to five years depending on the trade. While actively employed and earning a wage, registered apprentices learn the knowledge, skills and attitudes associated with the trade over the course of the apprenticeship term. Approximately 80% of apprenticeship training takes place in the workplace, where apprentices learn how to do a task from a supervising journeyperson (an expert in the trade). This practical training component is reinforced with a theoretical training component, where apprentices learn why they do the various tasks. The theoretical training component usually takes place at a technical institute and lasts six to ten weeks per year in length. Apprentices are enrolled in one of these courses each year. Most of the theoretical training is offered throughout Saskatchewan through Siast.

Apprentices who have experienced the broad range of skills in the trade, worked the prescribed number of hours in the workplace, and successfully completed all levels of technical training are eligible to write the journeyperson trade examination. If successful, they receive a Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship and a Journeyperson Certificate of Qualification. Employers accept journeyperson certification at face value because the industry has set the standard of performance in apprenticeship. A journeyperson certificate, with a nationally recognized “Red Seal” endorsement, offers tradespeople opportunities to work across Canada without having to recertify in other provinces or territories.

Apprenticeship is industry-driven, and based on the demand for skilled workers. Apprenticeship training is employment-based, and training and certification standards are developed and validated by industry. As a system of training in the trades, apprenticeship has had a long tradition in Canada and around the world. The system presently used in Saskatchewan, a combination of on-the-job training reinforced with periods of technical theoretical training, was initiated in 1944. At that time, thirteen trades were designated. In 2004, there were forty-nine designated trades in the province, and more than 5,200 apprentices registered in the apprenticeship system. In the first few years of the 21st century, Saskatchewan has experienced a shortage of qualified apprentices entering the trades field. Recognized trades in the province of Saskatchewan are: Agricultural Machinery Technician; Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Technician; Automotive Service Technician; Barber-Stylist; Boilermaker; Bricklayer; Cabinetmaker; Carpenter (plus a sub-trade); Concrete Finisher; Construction Craft Labourer; Cook; Cosmetologist; Crane and Hoist Operator (plus sub-trades); Custom Harvester; Drywall and Acoustical Mechanic; Electrician; Electronics Assembler; Electronics Technician (Consumer Products); Floorcovering Installer; Food and Beverage Person; Glassworker; Guest Services Representative; Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic; Horticulture Technician; Industrial Instrument Mechanic; Industrial Mechanic (Millwright); Insulator; Ironworker Reinforcing Rebar; Ironworker Structural; Locksmith; Machinist; Motor Vehicle Body Repairer (plus a sub-trade); Painter and Decorator; Partsperson; Pipeline Equipment Operator trades; Plasterer; Plumber; Pork Production Technician (plus sub-trades); Power Lineperson; Refrigeration Mechanic; Roofer; Sheet Metal Worker; Sprinkler Systems Installer; Steamfitter-Pipefitter; Steel Fabricator; Tilesetter; Truck and transport Mechanic; Water Well Driller; Welder (plus a sub-trade).

Susan Pentelichuk

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provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan.
University of Regina Government of Canada Government of Saskatchewan Canadian Plains Research Center
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