CNC Looks At Apprenticeship Options

Prince George, BC, Canada / CKPG News
CNC Looks At Apprenticeship Options

During a recent address to the Board, College of New Caledonia President, Dr. Henry Reiser highlighted an issue that has developed for some of the trades programs in terms of landing apprentices.
“What happened is that, because of the downturn in the Alberta economy, journey persons from Alberta have come home. And you see all of those Alberta licence plates in town. That’s created lots of opportunity for the employers to get journeymen instead of having to indenture an apprentice to do the work and there’s been a decrease in the demand for apprentices.”
The danger with that, though, is many of the journey people are getting older and, by not taking on apprentices, a company could be in trouble when the retirement bubble hits. But not all the local and regional companies are going that route.
“A lot of the folks in the forest industry have decided it’s best to do the home-grown apprentice rather than the trades person that comes from a different industry,” says Frank Everitt, President of the Steelworkers Union, Local 1-424. “Because they know full-well that when oil and gas goes big again, they’ll leave. [The employers] want to have someone who’s 35 years old, got a couple of kids and a house and know they’re going to be with that industry for a long time.”
The Dean of Trades with CNC, Frank Rossi, says the apprenticeship world can be as fickle and cyclical as the industry itself.
“The students that are in our Foundations programs are trying tpo get experience into the industries,” says Rossi. “It is a supply and demand situation and there are peaks and valleys and, right now, we’re in a little bit of a valley in regards to the downturn in oil and gas industry.”
He says not as many industries are taking on apprentices right now, but that will change when industry begins to peak again. In the interim, though, the College is opting to look at its own opportunities, perhaps indenturing its own apprentices.
“As trainers and providers of apprenticeship education, I looked around and thought, ‘Gee, you know, we don’t have any apprentices.’,” says Reiser. “So we’re in conversation now with Facilities and with Finance to see if we can indenture an apprentice in Electrical, an apprentice in Carpentry and an apprentice in Food Sciences.”
He says those apprentices would be doing the daily maintenance that “keeps the College running.”


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