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Feature   December 1, 2001   by CARS Magazine

Strengthening Apprenticeship Workplace Training

More than ever, workplace trainers are taking on a more significant role when it comes to training new apprentices.These days, approximately 80% of actual apprenticeship training time is spent in the ...

More than ever, workplace trainers are taking on a more significant role when it comes to training new apprentices.

These days, approximately 80% of actual apprenticeship training time is spent in the workplace. The majority of questions on Certificate of Qualification exams are based on actual skills and knowledge that the apprentice is expected to develop in the workplace.

However, on-the-job trainers do not require any qualifications in actual workplace training techniques at a time when far less time is allocated to the practical in-school skills development training of apprentices. Those techs who take the initiative to improve their mentor/coaching skills do not receive any formal recognition.

Given the challenges of finding new apprentices and the emphasis placed on workplace training, does this seem right?

Employers are faced with the balancing act of finding a new apprentice, providing the apprentice with proper training to ensure their future success, and at the same time, run a profitable business. With all of these day-to-day responsibilities, there needs to be more of an incentive for technicians and employers to take advantage of Mentor/Coach training. Technicians deserve to be recognized for investing their time and successfully acquiring these specialized skills.

Recently, CARS approached the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to consider the concept of providing provincial recognition of the CARS post-certificate Workplace Mentor/Coach training program. The Ministry’s initial response was positive.

In a letter sent to CARS from Minister Cunningham, it was shared that The Ministry had, “… announced a major initiative to strengthen apprenticeship training, which would involve journeyperson updating.” The letter continued, “This new program recognizes the significant impact that professionally trained journeyperson trainers could make in providing high quality workplace training for apprentices. Train-the-trainer programs and programs such as the Workplace Mentor/Coach program will be eligible for consideration under the Journeyperson Updating Program.”

The Canadian Council of the Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) Industry Relations Committee has also been receptive to the concept of recognizing the Workplace Mentor/Coach program. As a result of a recent CARS presentation, several committee members suggested that they would approach local industry representatives (boards) to explore piloting the concept in their respective province. The Industry Relations Committee also agreed to present the formal recognition concept to the CCDA sometime before the end of this year.

Although CARS developed the Workplace Mentor/Coach Program specifically for the motive power industry, the core competencies would be shared by a variety of industries and workplace training environments. Therefore, the program is applicable to workplace trainers in a wide range of trades. Because of the increasing importance of workplace training across many trades, the CCDA Industry Relations Committee feels the timing is right to promote and endorse the Mentor/Coach program.

Technicians who take on workplace trainer responsibilities often have extensive technical experience but may benefit from training support in the areas of communication, effective mentoring techniques and human relations, for example. Trainers with improved mentoring and coaching skills communicate their knowledge more effectively and can encourage the apprentice to be more proactive in the training process.

The Workplace Mentor/Coach Program was developed to further the knowledge and skills of the workplace trainer. This program has been made available to post-secondary institutes and colleges across Canada in both traditional classroom as well as self-paced CD-ROM delivery formats.

CARS will continue to meet with stakeholders and partners to explore how formal recognition of this post-certificate program could be implemented, provincially.

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