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March 23, 2011

The following statement was read today in the House of Assembly by the Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Education:

Skills Task Force Forum Proves Successful

Last week, the Department of Education hosted the second Skills Task Force forum, an opportunity to provide an update on implementation of the 2007 Task Force report, All The Skills to Succeed, and to gain further input from our industry partners and stakeholders.

I am pleased to report that, from all accounts, the forum was a tremendous success. About 160 individuals attended, with representation from industry, business, post-secondary institutions, as well as pre-apprentices, apprentices and those seeking employment in the skilled trades.

Direct and candid discussions allowed for an exchange of ideas and experiences that will help us all as we move forward with initiatives to support apprenticeship training and build the skilled labour force we need to ensure our province's continued prosperity.

All involved in the implementation of the Skills Task Force report recognize that the best way to meet current and anticipated skilled labour shortages is to work together.

Government is doing its part. For example, about $5.5 million has been allocated for the Apprenticeship Hiring Program, which supports Provincial Government departments and agencies in their efforts to hire apprentices. To date, we've helped over 100 individuals advance in their training. In addition, apprentices can now get credit for on-the-job training in Alberta upon returning home to complete in-school training.

Changes have also been made to the journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio to allow for greater training opportunities for apprentices. For example, there can now be two apprentices assigned to one journeyperson – as opposed to just one – with one of those being a senior level apprentice in their last year of training.

We are clearly making progress. The number of registered apprentices has increased by over 140 per cent, while the number of Red Seal certificates issued has increased by more than 70 per cent.

We will use what we heard at last week's forum to help address Skills Task Force action items, and to identify new areas of action. Participants welcomed the opportunity to have further discussions in the future, and I am confident that with continued open dialogue, we will build on our successes to date and see further growth in our apprenticeship training and skilled trades sectors.

2011 03 23             2:15 p.m.

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