News and Events

College welcomes enhanced apprenticeship

April 20, 2021

Chad Flinn, dean of trades and technology at Medicine Hat College (MHC), says the introduction of the Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Act, announced last week, is a big step in the right direction for students, business, and advanced education in the province.

“In Alberta, we have a strong apprenticeship system with 57 trades. But in Germany, with one of the world’s strongest economies, businesses and education work together in over 350 professions,” he says. “It’s clear they have recognized the virtues of collaboration to help people prepare and succeed in their careers.”

He believes that refreshing and growing Alberta’s approach will benefit everyone.

“The pandemic has illustrated just how fast business needs to change to implement new practices and technology to remain competitive and profitable. Training needs to be just as nimble, and we’re hoping the next approach will make it easier to align curriculum to the workplace.”

According to the Government of Alberta, the new Act promises to expand apprenticeship education to other professions and high-demand occupations and modernize how skilled trades professions are governed.

Flinn says that the growth and adoption of Work Integrated Learning -- a combination of academics, practical learning at college, and experience in the workplace -- is ideal.

“We tend to use the word ‘apprenticeship’ quite narrowly and apply that approach to learning to skilled trades,” he says. In reality, many college programs provide education that integrate classroom and business experiences.

“In my School, programs like Built Environment Engineering Technology (BEET) and Information Technology (IT) are deeply engaged with industry. We just use different words like ‘practicum’ or ‘internship’ to describe the experience. In the future, it may be that these career areas and many others will be developed within a broader apprenticeship model.”

He notes the trades are one of the “best kept secrets in Canada.” There is strong employment, opportunity for entrepreneurship, and good salaries. “The way we teach in the trades, matching academic and skill development with the workplace, is also powerful and effective.”

“I’m looking forward to a future in which we erode barriers between K to 12, the post-secondary sector, and industry. We can take a look at what works best in the world and bring it here to southeastern Alberta.”