Apprenticeship Futures Commission – Meeting Tomorrow’s Needs

by NationTalk on March 26, 20081218 Views

Final Report, March 26, 2008


In the fall of 2006, Manitoba announced the newly formed Department of Competitiveness, Training and Trade which includes the Apprenticeship Branch.

With the industry focus of the new department, a commitment was made to consult with Manitoba’s stakeholders on apprenticeship and related training and certification systems.

The Apprenticeship Futures Commission will consult on the following:

– Manitoba’s skilled labour shortage
– Competition for skilled labour as a result of economic growth and activity in Western Canada
– Increased apprenticeship participation rates and technical training demands as a result of increased labour market demands
– Employer engagement in ApprenticeshipBenefits

The Commission will identify the levels of success in meeting the needs of apprentices, employers and the provincial economy, and provide recommendations that will contribute to the future, strategic direction for skilled trades in Manitoba.

A series of consultations with the public and stakeholder groups provide an opportunity for the Commission to shape recommendations and present valuable feedback required to enhance and grow the apprenticeship and related training systems.


A system that:

– Increases recognition by Manitobans of apprenticeship as a legitimate, valuable and rewarding career choice
– Provides effective infrastructure for the skills development of apprentices and employers of skilled tradespeople
– Offers innovative and quality programs, services and processes
– Reduces apprenticeship entry barriers for current and future stakeholders

Commission Mandate

– The commission will host a series of consultations with public and stakeholder groups to gather feedback on Manitoba’s apprenticeship and related training systems.
– The commission will identify what is required to meet the needs of apprentices, employers and the provincial economy.
– The commission will provide recommendations to government that will contribute to the future, strategic direction for skilled trades in Manitoba.


Manitoba’s economy is currently robust and projected to have strong growth. However, specific sectors of the economy and some individual businesses will continue to be challenged in maintaining ongoing growth and prosperity. Globalization, increased competition and labor market shifts have resulted in the need to be innovative and aggressive in developing and executing strategies to prosper in the current and future environments. Meeting the requirements for skilled workers will be the central focus of many strategic efforts.

Manitoba is also experiencing historically low unemployment rates, resulting in widely reported labour shortages, particularly in the skilled trades. The labour market faces competition for skilled workers particularly as western provinces experience strong economic activity. The shortage of skilled labour, that has been increasingly evident over the past decade, has reached a point where in some sectors it will determine whether or not economic activity can be sustained or expanded.

The need for skilled workers is clearly essential to maintaining economic activity. It is important to acknowledge and respect the shared interests of employers and employees as well as the larger community in sustaining viable economic activities. However, any consideration of policies or initiatives to address specific economic factors such as the supply of skilled workers cannot be viewed in isolation of other considerations, including public policy. As was noted by the Task Force on Access to Professions and Trades in Ontario (1989), fixing the balance between interests that should be seen as complementary, but perceived by some as competing, is a difficult task.

As one measure to support the increased need for skilled workers, in the spring of 2007 the Government of Manitoba committed to enhancing and significantly expanding the existing apprenticeship training and certification system. This system which has a long history is considered to be one of the important models contributing to the development of a skilled labour force. In support of this commitment, the Minister of Competitiveness, Training and Trade established the Apprenticeship Futures Commission in September, 2007. The role of the Commission was to consult with employer and employee representatives, business sectors, community interest groups, education and training providers, as well as the general public regarding the apprenticeship model and make recommendations that would contribute to the future strategic direction for enhancing skilled traded in Manitoba.

The objectives of the consultation process and thus the mandate of the Commission were:
 To identify opportunities and challenges with respect to meeting the changing and evolving needs of the Manitoba labour market;
 To engage, key stakeholders to develop creative, innovative and practical solutions/approaches focused on flexibility, enhancements and/or expansion of, the apprenticeship training and certification system; and
 To make recommendations intended to achieve improvements to, and expansion of, the apprenticeship system and its service delivery mechanisms.

The Apprenticeship Futures Commission established four general themes as the basis for requesting input and as a ‘lens’ through which the Commission would consider the apprenticeship training and related certification systems; access, engagement, innovation and effectiveness. The Apprenticeship Futures Commission advertised in several publications across the province and via radio, the opportunity to present at a public consultation session and/or complete the on-line survey. The Apprenticeship Branch also sent notices to all apprentices and employers who have been involved in the system within the prior five year period. A submission guide available through the website provided guidelines for the areas of inquiry.

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