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Train Apprentices and Certify your Workforce

May
18

Apprenticeship makes good business sense. In fact, this supply and demand training system has made good business sense since its inception in Saskatchewan more than 65 years ago.

Two of the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission’s (SATCC) main roles are training apprentices and certifying tradespeople. There four compulsory trades - Plumber, Construction Electrician, Sheet Metal Worker, and Refrigeration Mechanic - in which tradespeople must be an apprentice or journeyperson in order to work in the trade. While we encourage employers to hire and train apprentices, we also remind employers that in non-compulsory trades, such as carpentry, where apprentice or journeyperson status is not required to work in the trade, they can still certify their existing tradespeople. It’s important to keep in mind that under both certification avenues, workplace safety is key.

Creating a safety mindset among apprentices occurs at technical training, where apprentices spend about 15 per cent of their training. Safety is a priority for instructors and one of the first topics covered in class. Instructors highlight safe procedures and the importance of wearing the correct equipment and using the right tools for the job at hand. They also insist that apprentices demonstrate safe work habits during the practical portion of technical training. This helps apprentices to model safe procedures and “do the right thing” when they return to their workplaces. 

That being said, apprentices complete the vast majority—about 85 per cent—of their learning on the job. While safety is emphasized at technical training, apprentices only complete technical training after they have wrapped up their first year of employment. We all have a role to play in creating a safe work culture. Employers clarify safety standards in the workplace, and then ensure their journeypersons, tradespeople, and apprentices are adhering to those standards. A thriving safety culture can help ensure that everyone puts safety first. It requires buy-in and ownership from organizational leaders, all the way down to the newest workers.

Tradespeople are individuals who work in non-compulsory trades and have learned their skills on the job over many years, but have never tested their knowledge to obtain their Journeyperson Certificate. Tradespeople may be eligible to challenge the certification exam as trade qualifiers, depending on the number of on-the-job hours they’ve completed. This is the same certification exam that apprentices take once they’ve successfully completed all of their required technical training. These competencies and acknowledgement of on-the-job experience includes safety measures, which are vital to every job site and are a key component of the certification exam.

Saskatchewan’s workplace safety record is improving. According to the Saskatchewan WCB’s most recent annual report, our province’s time-loss injury rate dropped for the fourteenth straight year in 2016, from 2.07 per cent in 2015 to 1.86 per cent in 2016 – the lowest it has been in 64 years. The total injury rate also dropped—from 6.30 per cent in 2015 to 5.55 per cent in 2016. 

There are competitive advantages to your organization, and to tradespeople, for obtaining Journeyperson certification.                 

The Journeyperson Certificate:

  1. acknowledges a tradesperson’s competency;
  2. ensures recognition of a tradesperson’s certification; and
  3. ensures you have staff qualified to oversee and train your apprentices effectively.

For more information, call the SATCC at 1-877-363-0536, or visit the Workers | Trade Qualifiers webpage at saskapprenticeship.ca and learn how to get started with the straightforward step-by-step application process.

Please share this information with your tradespeople and encourage them to pursue certification.

(Photo: Journeyperson CArpenter, Matt Stovall, and his apprentices)