News Archives: Industry and Education Partners Expand Possibilities for Learners
Released: Tuesday, April 12th, 2011
Work here, live here, learn here - the formula to ensure a stable and skilled workforce is well established. Now, through a partnership of industry and education, apprentices in the sheet metal worker trade will be able to take their in-school component of their apprenticeship program in our region.
Apprenticeship begins with finding an employer. Employers hire apprentices, pay their wage and provide on-the-job and work experience (80% of an apprenticeship program) supervised by a certified or qualified tradesperson. The technical training component of an apprenticeship program (20%) complements what the apprentice has learned on the job.
On April 18, the first cohort of sheet metal workers will begin apprenticeship training in Grande Prairie. The SAIT program is being offered here through the collaborative efforts of SAIT, Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT) LSM - Lee's Sheet Metal Ltd., and GPRC. The 10-week program will include afternoon theory in classrooms at GPRC, and evening shop training using the facilities of LSM.
"Our staff finishes their day at 4:30 pm," explains Pete Merlo, LSM President and CEO, "so they will clear the decks and the apprentices will arrive at 5:00. It will be sort of like a shift change!" Staff at LSM is enthusiastic about the new use of their building and equipment, while acknowledging that some accommodations will be necessary.
"We are all committed to this opportunity, and recognize the potential for long-term gain for our company and our industry," says Merlo. "It is pretty exciting to know that our apprentices will have this opportunity without having to move so far away from their jobs and families - and not only that but they are gaining "real world" experience since they are training in a working shop instead of a lab!"
"The 12 seats in the program were quickly filled by employees of several sheet metal shops throughout the region, including Slave Lake, Peace River, NWT and Grande Prairie" says Terry Taylor, Area Supervisor for Apprenticeship and Industry Training. "Industry has indicated their strong support for a training initiative like this that brings 1st period sheet metal apprenticeship training north of Edmonton for the first time." "It is a true partnership between industry, training providers and government."
"Partnerships among industry, employers and institutions are at the heart of Campus Alberta and Alberta's apprenticeship and industry training system and I'm pleased to see SAIT and Grande Prairie Regional College working together to provide this new opportunity for Albertans," said Greg Weadick, Minister of Advanced Education and Technology. "Trades and skilled labour are an integral part of Alberta's economic turnaround and collaborations like these will certainly make a difference in this region."
The program and instructors will be provided by SAIT - another first for our community, and a great pilot project demonstrating alternative education models. Students will receive a unique blended learning experience of classroom theory and shop training, supplemented by online learning with videos, study aids and practice exams.
"SAIT is committed to working with other post-secondary institutions to expand learning opportunities for all Albertans," says Irene Lewis, President and CEO of SAIT. "Providing more options not only helps students, it improves the long-run sustainability of our provincial economy."
"We are very proud to be one of the partners in this ground-breaking opportunity for apprentices and industry in our region," says Don Gnatiuk, President and CEO of GPRC. "Our collaborative partners - SAIT, AIT and LSM - have all been working together effectively and efficiently to develop this pilot project, and the support from Advanced Education and Technology has been tremendous," says Gnatiuk. "I think we have created a delivery system which will lead the way for others in the future."