New changes are making it easier to keep Manitoba’s apprenticeship programs up to date, but some experts are wondering why now?
The province announced on Wednesday the Apprenticeship and Certification Amendment Act itself was amended — a move that promises to cut down on red tape and delays when updating the program.
““These changes will improve governance within Manitoba’s apprenticeship system to ensure stakeholders voices are heard,” says Economic Development and Jobs Minister Ralph Eichler.
“(The changes will also) increase Manitoba’s competitive advantage by ensuring we maintain a modern, high-quality apprenticeship system.”
Proposed legislative amendments would reduce the time required to update program standards for the voluntary trades by up to a year, which would speed up the implementation of nationally-recognized training standards as part of the Red Seal program.
Bill 61 would allow the Apprenticeship and Certification Board to revise program standards through the use of bylaws and establish standing sector-based committees, while creating focused trade-based industry working groups to provide industry expertise.
Under the current system, it can take over two years to update program standards, a process that includes appointing members to committee, obtaining approval from the Apprenticeship and Certification Board, writing the amendment and having the government sign off on the changes.
“This is fantastic news on the new bill that modernizes the needed changes for apprenticeship in Manitoba,” said Jared Jacobson, president and CEO of Jacobson and Greiner Group of Companies.
“As a group of companies, we currently employ all areas of major trades and see this as a positive step to remove barriers and red tape in our industry.”
Manitoba Building Trades CEO Samir Sandhu agrees with Jacobson, saying the changes were much-needed. However, he has concerns about the timing.
It comes less than three months after the province moved to change the apprenticeship ratio, doubling it from one apprentice per journeyperson to two.
Fourth-year apprentices also no longer need direct supervision from a journeyperson,
It’s a move Sandhu’s been outspoken about, concerned about young tradespeople.
“A badly broken system was just used to push through the most dramatic changes we’ve seen in apprenticeship in decades,” Sandhu said.
It’s not just health and safety Sandhu’s worried about, but also job security.
“The promise we’ve made to young people is, ‘come into the trades, you’ll have a lifelong career,’” Sandhu said.
“But now employers are telling us because of the changes, they don’t see the economic merit in being able to employ journeyed tradespeople.”
After seeing the more experienced workers above them lose their jobs, Sandhu fears apprentices would be next on the chopping block once they reach the same status.
“If I’m an employer looking at cost structure, I want level four apprentices and lower-level apprentices in my shop – I no longer want journeypeople.”
Sandhu says he’s not alone in this fight, noting that employers and other industry representatives have shared their concerns with the legislature.
He’s hoping a new apprenticeship board that could be appointed as a result of the proposed change could take a step back and review last year’s changes.
“This was a mistake. Please stop. Just give it time.”
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