Today, individual forums with current skilled trades journeypersons, employers and other stakeholders are being held on the subject in Stephenville, Grand Falls-Windsor and Labrador City.
The sessions, hosted by the provincial government, will see stakeholders providing information to “help guide the direction of the apprenticeship system,” according to a provincial government news release.
The sessions will be linked, creating a single forum, for a broader view on the needs across the regions.
Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Joan Burke is attending the session in Stephenville, Minister of Health and Community Services Susan Sullivan is attending in Grand Falls-Windsor and Minister Responsible for Labrador Affairs Nick McGrath is attending in Labrador City.
“This regional apprenticeship forum is a true example of partnership and cooperation in action, as employers, union representatives, apprentices, journeypersons, and students, graduates and staff from training institutions come together for a collaborative discussion of the apprenticeship system in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Burke has stated.
“The information gathered through these discussions will help highlight issues and provide future direction for skilled trades in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
In addition, the session will be used by Burke to provide further detail on the programs announced as part of a $4.1 million spend in Budget 2012 to advance apprentices.
The spending will go in part to the introduction of a journeyperson mentorship program. “This program will provide a wage subsidy for journeypersons dedicated to mentoring apprentices through technical knowledge, trade skills and workplace training. It is expected that approximately 140 apprentices will benefit annually,” stated the news release.
There will be an expansion of the apprenticeship wage subsidy program. “The subsidy will help offset salary costs of hiring underemployed and unemployed apprentices and will result in work experience for an additional 65 apprentices annually.” The program funded 344 apprentices last year, 63 being women working towards their journeyperson status.
As well, the province is introducing an apprentice tracking system.
“There is a continued demand for improvement and new approaches to labour market challenges in our province, and with the labour shortage forecasted, the regional apprenticeship forum is helping us to address these challenges, including here in Central Newfoundland,” Sullivan stated.
Provincial representatives have said other items included in the recent provincial budget — including $200,000 to establish the Workforce Development Secretariat and efforts to improve access to childcare — will assist in removing some of the hurdles to further education apprentices have been struggling with to date.
In December 2011, The Telegram published a series of articles on challenges being faced by apprentices in the skilled trades in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Connecting with journeyperson supervisors and appropriate opportunities as well as accessing childcare were noted challenges at that time.