Skilled trades program funding increases in Alberta

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Registered apprenticeship program student Aurora Erickson demonstrates her welding skills.

The Government of Alberta has increased annual funding towards skilled trades initiatives to more than $6 million a year by 2022-23. The funding will go towards “Careers: The Next Generation” program which provides 6,000 students with paid internships and skilled trades and technologies for elementary to high school students.

“A skilled workforce is the backbone of a prosperous economy. We need to encourage more youth to enter into the skilled trades to address both the looming skilled labour shortage and one of the highest youth unemployment rates Alberta has seen in decades,” explains Demetrios Nicolaides, minister of advanced education for Alberta.

The increase in funding with double the number of schools involved with the program to 1,000 and quadruple the number of learning opportunities for students. Schools are offered age-specific programs, with high school students matched with employers through internships, apprenticeships, camps, workshops and mentoring.

“By providing students with hands-on learning programs in areas such as technology and the trades, we are improving their future employability,” said Adriana LaGrange, minister of education in Alberta. “I have heard from both school boards and industry stakeholders how valuable the registered apprenticeship program and career and technology studies are as an important first step to engage students, improve high school completion rates, and build a qualified and educated workforce.”

Between 2010 and 2018, 72 per cent of high school registered apprenticeship program participants continued their training. In the coming years, some of the highest demand apprenticeship and skilled trades will be mechanics, industrial mechanics, millwrights, construction, and oil and gas, reports Alberta Labour.

Over the next five years, nearly 20,000 skilled trade workers are expected to retire, and that number will grow to more than 45,000 in 10 years, reports the Government of Alberta.

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