Nfld. & Labrador

New N.L. apprentice rules target worker shortage

The Newfoundland and Labrador Apprenticeship and Certification Board is approving rules that will allow two apprentices to be hired for every journeyperson working in construction trades.
Construction projects like this one in Labrador City need more skilled trades workers.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Apprenticeship and Certification Board is approving rules that will allow two apprentices to be hired for every journeyperson working in construction trades.

The new rules, which apply to 16 construction trades, have been put in place to deal with a skilled worker shortage in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

More apprentice jobs will mean more trades students will be able to get experience earlier, and companies will be able to hire more apprentices. 

Richard Sawyer, the campus administrator at the College of the North Atlantic in Labrador City, said the rules should make access to work experience easier for more students . 

"Companies of course are always looking for the most experienced apprentices that they can find.  So they'll generally go with a third or fourth year apprentice, if they're restricted as far as numbers go," said Sawyer.  "But now that they can hire, in a sense, twice as many apprentices, they'll start picking up apprentices that are in their first and second year."

New rules already piloted

Brad Sheppard, chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Association, said his company in St. John's has been using the ratio of two apprentices to one journeyperson for more than a year as part of a pilot project.

Brad Sheppard is the chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Association. (CBC )

He pointed out that the trades workforce is aging, with most of its best skilled trades people over the age of 40, and that the apprenticeship process can take many years to complete. 

"If we don't do it now and start preparing for the eventual retirement of these workers we could get ourselves in trouble," said Sheppard. 

"It doesn't mean there will be a job waiting tomorrow for every apprentice that's out there, but it's a step in the right direction."

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