Panel named to review N.S. apprenticeship program

13-month-old review set to end in about three months

Nova Scotia announced the final phase to its apprenticeship review this afternoon, 13 months after the review began.

Labour and Advanced Education Minister Marilyn More announced that the final phase of the review will consist of an advisory panel of employers who will help make the final recommendations for Nova Scotia’s apprenticeship program.

“I’m looking forward to working with you,” said More of the advisory panel. “To ensure our apprentices are completing their training, that we’re connecting their work and work experience towards good jobs, hopefully in this province.”

The panel is made of nine employers from a broad range of trade fields. Their main task is to advise how to build better connections with employers but will also examine issues such as quicker training, offering more online learning options and raising awareness of career opportunities.

The review, which began in Dec. 2011, started with a discussion paper. The next step was a consultation period, during which hundreds of apprentices, industry representatives, trainers and employers participated. The final changes to the apprenticeship program should be implemented before the year ends, but progress has been outgoing since the review began.

The province has already fixed some problems with the program, though. Before last August, the province didn’t recognize hours earned towards apprenticeships, which were earned outside of Nova Scotia. Now, the 5,866 registered apprentices in Nova Scotia are free to find apprenticeships in other provinces, while still having those hours count towards their apprenticeship.

“While the current system works well in many ways, we are listening to apprentices, employers and others about challenges and opportunities for improvement,” said More.

Rick Clarke, a member of the advisory panel and president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, says he has a couple of issues to raise.

“I’ve heard from younger workers having problems when they’re going out west and then younger workers having difficulties getting in because of the ratio issue,” said Clarke. “Those are areas I’m going to have my eyes open for.”

The panel will begin meetings at the end of the month, and are expected to meet for two or three months. This is the first review of the apprenticeship program in 10 years.

The advisory panel

  • Nan Armour – Executive Director of Hypatia Association /Women Unlimited
  • Alex Paul – Director of Unama’ki Economic Benefits Office
  • Brian McCarthy – Vice President of Irving Shipbuilding
  • Corey Bell – President of J.W. Lindsay Enterprises Ltd.
  • Jack Wall – Business Manager of Sheet Metal Workers and Roofers International Association
  • Heather Cruickshanks – L.E. Cruickshanks Sheet Metal Ltd.
  • Rick Clarke – President of Nova Scotia Federation of Labour
  • Don Bureaux – President of Nova Scotia Community College
  • Joe Rufferham – Director of Apprenticeships for Labour and Advanced Education