Fewer hours needed for metalwork apprenticeship

Province lightens requirements in effort to keep workers in Nova Scotia

Metalworkers would benefit from increased shipbuilding. (Photo Credit: Dave Lostracco)

The province slashed the number of hours needed to complete a metalwork apprenticeship today, aiming to slow the flow of skilled workers heading to Alberta.

“We’re losing everyone to Alberta and I want to change that,” said Kelly Regan, minister of Labour and Advanced Education.

Regan unveiled the changes to Nova Scotia’s apprenticeship program at Halifax’s Cherubini Metal Works today.

Kelly Regan has been a MLA since 2009. (Photo Credit: Dave Lostracco)

The new plan will cut the number of required hours to complete a metal fabrication apprenticeship to 6,000 from 8,000.

Alberta requires only 5,500 hours to complete an apprenticeship, 500 hours less than Nova Scotia’s new requirement.

When asked if she thought the program would help retain young workers, Regan said, “We think it’s a step in the right direction because it will cut down the time it takes to become a journeyman.”

“There is a shortage of trainers and a shortage of positions,” Regan said, in regard to the rising demand for apprenticeships in Nova Scotia.

Regan said the changes allow other trades to take similar steps, in an effort to “modernize” the outdated apprenticeship program.

6,000 apprentices in N.S.

There are currently more than 6,000 apprentices in the 66 recognized trades in Nova Scotia.

The changes also mean a journeyperson can train up to three apprentices at one time, where previously only one apprentice was allowed per trainer.

More than 2,000 students are currently enrolled in pre-apprenticeship programs at Nova Scotia colleges; many will seek employment out of province. Regan thinks that between shipbuilding and new construction, the demand for metal fabrication workers will skyrocket in the next five years.

The plan also includes the formation of a new government agency to oversee apprenticeships. Regan did not comment on the cost of the new board, but will report to her ministry.

“People have to weigh their financial future with the quality of life they can get in Nova Scotia,” Dale Crawford, manager of apprenticeship training for the government of Nova Scotia said.