Edmonton

Alberta task force to look at possible expansion of apprenticeship programs

Apprenticeships in areas like computer coding and green technology could soon be available to Alberta students depending on the findings of a new task force announced Wednesday. 

Government wants a trade apprenticeship to be as valued as a university education

Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides was joined by members of a new task force that will look at ways to improve and expand Alberta's apprenticeship programs. (Dave Bajer/CBC )

Apprenticeships in areas such as computer coding and green technology could soon be available to Alberta students, depending on the findings of a new task force announced Wednesday. 

NAIT president Glenn Feltham and SAIT president David Ross will co-chair the newly appointed Skills for Jobs Task Force. 

The mandate of the 19-member task force includes looking at expanding the areas in which students can take apprenticeships.

"Alberta government policy is limited to approximately only 50 skilled trades," Advance Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said at a news conference in Edmonton. 

"This is relevant for the design of education funding, student grants, loans and other areas, and by expanding the apprenticeship model more young Albertans will have access to on-the-job training and bring them closer to labour market opportunities."

In Germany and other European countries, apprenticeships are offered in about 200 skilled trades, including banking, Feltham said. 

"That is very common to the world's most advanced industrialized countries, and quite frankly the most productive countries in the world," he said.  

Feltham said Alberta has the most advanced apprenticeship model in North America but it could be worth looking at what other systems are doing and trying those ideas. 

The government is also asking the task force to look at ways to make a career in the trades as desirable to students as a university education. 

The task force will also look at best practices from around the world that can be used in Alberta. 

The government has asked for an interim report in early 2020 and a full report later in the year.