Preparing for Work, Offering New Hope

Kenney pledges fast-track graduation, skills-oriented high schools and apprenticeship scholarships for young Albertans

EDMONTON, AB: “Apprenticeship learning has every bit as much value as academic learning, and skilled trades have every bit as much value, merit and worth as a university degree.” said United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney today.

“A UCP government will create opportunities for young people to learn practical job skills that meet the demands of the labour market and that will help them to succeed and build prosperity for all Albertans. We will reinvent the vocational high school.”

Notwithstanding the current economic challenges, Alberta will have an ongoing demand for apprentices and skilled tradespeople as older skilled workers leave the workforce. Alberta’s Department of Labour predicts that from now to 2025, more than 3,000 skilled workers will retire every year.

“Alberta needs to get ahead of these trends,” said Kenney. “These are the trades we rely on. These are the transport and equipment operators, the skilled tradespeople, the welders, the mechanics, the plant specialists and all the related occupations that make Alberta’s economy run. So, for the next generation of young Albertans with the right skills, there are going to be huge opportunities to do well and build a great life.”

The urgent need now, he added, was to help them into apprenticeships, the skilled trades, and into vocational education.

Kenney laid out a detailed plan to:

  1. Double the number of schools that CAREERS: Next Generation is currently working with, from 500 to 1,000,[1] and quadruple the number of students placed with participating employers.
  2. Expand the number of students enrolled in the Registered Apprenticeship Program, (as part of the UCP commitment to CAREERS: Next Generation.)
  3. Establish a new $1 million Trades Scholarship for 1,000 graduating secondary students who show promise in the trades in high school. This will be a new annual scholarship of $1,000 available in addition to existing scholarships.
  4. Support the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s new collegiate in Edmonton[2] and aim to expand this model to Calgary and other centres. The province’s contribution under a United Conservative government will be $28 million towards the NAIT collegiate[3] and we will also budget $28 million for a similar Calgary collegiate.
  5. Reform teacher certification to enable qualified tradespeople to teach and bring their skills to the classroom without requiring a full Bachelor of Education.[4]
  6. Modernize Alberta Employment Standards Code[5] to enable junior high school students to work in co-op programs on job sites.
  7. Appoint a Skills for Jobs Task Force to report to the government on how to reform education in order to expand opportunities for vocational education and the skilled trades.
  8. Increase support for Skills Canada Alberta, a non-profit group dedicated to the promotion of careers in technology and skilled trade, so that young Albertans can participate in its Skills Canada National Competition and demonstrate their skills and talent on the national and world stage.
  9. Support the creation of an Alberta Trades Hall of Fame to honour Albertan tradespeople who have made a difference in our province.
  10. Expand the Women Building Futures program to support women who wish to pursue opportunities in the skilled trades.
  11. Work with other provinces and territories to better harmonize provincial mobility for apprentices and skilled tradespeople.
  12. Expand the apprenticeship model to other careers such as coding, green technologies, and others.

“We will Establish a new apprenticeship scholarship for high-school students who show promise in the trades. These scholarships will be worth $1,000 each and there will be a thousand of them. This is a new program, on top of all existing grants and scholarships.”

“Having a degree is great, and so’s knowing how to build something and do it well. Within Alberta, the earnings of those with an apprenticeship certificate used to be close to the earnings of those with a bachelor’s degree. And on average, they were higher than those with a bachelor’s degree in all other provinces.”

“When the only option right now for nearly half of our young people is to leave Alberta or sit around doing nothing, we have a huge problem.”

“The NDP have failed these young people. They have ignored the skilled tradesworkers for the past four years as they pursued their ideologically driven agenda of putting Alberta out of business. There was not even a mention of apprenticeships, skilled trades, and vocational education in their 2015 platform.”

“The UCP will prepare our young men and women to go to work, and to give them hope for a great future here, in Alberta!”

A comprehensive backgrounder with additional details on today’s announcement can be found here.

[3] From: Edmonton Catholic School Board 2019 Capital Plan, the $28 million is the ECSB’s portion of the funding for NAIT Collegiate.  The other partners are the Government of Alberta ($28 million), Edmonton Public School Board ($28 million) and NAIT ($28 million).  The total project cost thus is $112 million. We assume and budget a similar figure for a possible Calgary collegiate.
[4] See Backgrounder: Teacher Certification for Tradespeople: How it works now