News Release: NEW SKILLS, TALENT, KNOWLEDGE STRATEGY ENDANGERS MANITOBA’S SKILLED CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY WORKFORCE
February 9, 2021
WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s largest labour representative for the skilled construction trades is raising serious concern over the future of Manitoba’s industrial construction industry after the release of the skills strategy by Education Minister Wayne Ewasko earlier today. The skills strategy document includes recommendations for changes to Apprenticeship Manitoba. The proposed changes will result in lower wages and fewer career opportunities for apprentices in the skilled trades in Manitoba.
“Manitoba is recognized as a leader in quality apprenticeship training and these changes will threaten our ability to grow our workforce and economy,” said Sudhir Sandhu, CEO Manitoba Building Trades. “While the current system provides superior training and mentorship, these changes will create barriers for apprentices to achieve journeyperson status and disincentivize employers from employing current journeypersons.”
Recently, the Manitoba Building Trades was signatory to a joint letter sent to Minister Ralph Eichler where both industry and labour expressed concerns around the lack of consultation undertaken by the Government of. The letter addresses concerns over sweeping and harmful regulatory changes to Apprenticeship Manitoba which occurred without consultation.
Manitoba Building Trades is increasingly concerned that the province in following the lead of the former British Columbia government who eliminated all compulsory trades and focused on ‘just-in-time’ training or ‘micro-credentialing’, instead of wider skills training. As a result of these changes, British Columbia saw lower wages and lower apprenticeship completion rates where on average only 3 in 10 apprentices achieved journeyperson status.
“When the Government of British Columbia gutted the apprenticeship system back in 2003, we lost a generation of skilled trade workers, and we still have yet to recover from that,” said Tom Sigurdson, former Executive Director of BC Building Trades. “Level 1 and 2 apprentices lost the opportunity to learn on the job as most of those positions were filled with cheaper day labour, and without this they had no hope of continuing on to become a journeyperson.”
Manitoba Building Trades is urging the government to reconsider their skills and training strategy as it relates to construction apprenticeship before current and proposed changes cause lasting damage to the industry and Manitoba’s economy as a whole.
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MBT represents the common goals of more than 10,000 construction and trades professionals in our 13 member unions to deliver safe, skilled and highly productive labour. Its advocacy is based on the belief that unionized construction labour is the most competitive alternative for public and private project proponents in the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors. MBT delivers cost competitive skilled labour while maintaining the highest standards of training, wages and benefits and workplace safety.
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