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LATEST NEWS  Skills Training

November 15, 2012

Canadian Apprenticeship Forum lives on

After an overwhelming response from stakeholders, the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) has announced it will continue operations beyond March 31, 2013, when its funding through the federal Sector Council Program ends.

“The number one thing that we were told by the vast majority of our stakeholders was that it’s needed more than ever,” said CAF executive director Sarah Watts-Rynard.

“You can really see that because the shortages are coming, there’s a good understanding that we need to still be telling people about great careers in the trades.”

Following news that the Sector Council Program was expiring, CAF asked the apprenticeship community for feedback.

CAF was told that it is needed to share the business case for apprenticeship with non-participating employers.

“We do have 81 per cent of skilled trades employers or employers who are working in the skilled trades that aren’t right now training apprentices. We do need to continue to tell them that there is a great business case,” said Watts-Rynard.

The third message from the stakeholder community was that CAF is still needed to encourage and facilitate stakeholder dialogue.

“There are some really fantastic initiatives and different programs, services and supports that are available and when you’re working with blinders for your own environment you don’t necessarily have a chance to see them,” she explained.

“Cutting into the silos and sharing what’s going on in other places is a way to make improvements without having to think up new ideas and start from scratch.”

CAF, established in 2000, is an inclusive national body that brings together all players in apprenticeship training. It promotes apprenticeship as an effective model for training and education across Canada.

CAF announced its Apprenticeship Champion campaign at its June national conference in Regina, calling for champions to support its mandate. At the time, CAF said if it did not receive sponsorship it would have to shut down. So far, 73 members have joined the campaign, which has four levels of sponsorship.

Those members get access to higher levels of service, free access to research reports, involvement on standing committees, voting for board representation and a monthly newsletter.

While members will receive value added services, Watts-Rynard said it’s important to have some work freely available too as a way to engage youth, parents, educators and employers.

Watts-Rynard hopes to have 500 CAF members by this time next year.

Over the next year, CAF says it will continue to engage members, pursue project funding to continue its research and promotion activities, and streamline its governance structure. Members will help establish a new strategic plan and priorities, as well as identify a new Board of Directors, which is being reduced to 15 from over 40 members.

“We have really assessed everything to do with our operations, everything to do with our governance structure and then tried to streamline as much as possible in a way that wasn’t going to affect our effectiveness when it came to reaching out to the community and reaching out to those non-participating audiences,” said Watts-Rynard.

CAF has three reports that will be published between now and March. They are about: recruiting apprentices; retaining apprentices; and technology and innovation in the trades.

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