The Government of Nova Scotia announced it will accelerate growth in the skilled trades and modernize the entire apprenticeship and trades qualification system to meet the needs of a growing province.

The actions announced by Premier Tim Houston will add up to 5,000 more new apprentices to the system in the next three years, increase the number of journeypersons and trades qualifiers by 1,000 a year and increase the retention rate of apprentices from 43 per cent to 60 per cent – one of the highest in the country – within five years. It builds on the innovative work that has already been happening with the More Opportunity for Skilled Trades (MOST) program and apprenticeship program, including previous changes to the apprenticeship ratios.

“This is a very big day for the future of the Nova Scotia workforce. Nova Scotia is a growing province, and we need even more skilled trades workers to build our homes, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure projects important to Nova Scotians,” said Premier Houston. “We are willing to make bold decisions and substantial changes to the status quo to become the skilled trades leader in Canada.”

The Province is changing the ratios to increase the number of apprentices training on job sites and launching a new targeted immigration stream, both of which will help more people enter Nova Scotia’s skilled trades workforce faster.

“With our current population growth, housing of all forms is needed. To do that, we need to be creative and find new ways of attracting and retaining our workforce. CANS is pleased to see the Province take action to reduce the skilled trades shortage in Nova Scotia,” said Duncan Williams, president and CEO, Construction Association of Nova Scotia.

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The standard ratio is being increased from one journeyperson per two apprentices to one journeyperson per three apprentices in most trades. The Province is also excluding final level apprentices from ratios in all trades.

“While the number of apprentices in Nova Scotia continues to grow each year, the labour market need for skilled trades professionals is outpacing our ability to train them. We are working with our partners to develop creative, innovative solutions to meet their needs and become a skilled trades leader in Canada,” said Jill Balser, Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration.

The Critical Construction Worker Pilot, a new stream of Nova Scotia’s Provincial Nominee Program, includes 21 in-demand occupations in the construction sector, largely focused on the residential building trades. It will broaden the pool of skilled workers companies need and recognize valuable industry experience for these occupations. It does not require a high school diploma, which other streams do.

The actions also include:

  • launching targeted recruitment strategies to make it easier to enter the skilled trades
  • building programs, incentives and personalized supports to enter the skilled trades
  • putting individualized learning programs in place to support retention
  • building capacity to mentor and train more apprentices
  • implementing faster skilled trades training at both the pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship stages
  • changing the way government connects and responds to industry
  • becoming a skilled trades leader in Canada.

These actions will cost about $100 million over three years.

“Accessibility is critical to NSCC’s mission – bringing post-secondary education and training opportunities to communities across our province to help grow and diversify the workforce. Needs within the trades sector have risen dramatically in recent years – a situation that requires all hands on deck. Today’s significant investment in programming and financial incentives by the Province will open doors and support those under-represented in the trades sector as we quickly and collectively move to address the skilled labour shortage,” said Don Bureaux, president, Nova Scotia Community College.

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Featured image: Duncan Williams, president and CEO, Construction Association of Nova Scotia; Premier Tim Houston; Jill Balser, Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration; and Jill Provoe, vice president, Academic and Equity, Nova Scotia. (Communications Nova Scotia)


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