September 6, 2017 by Corinne Lynds
How do we prepare the next generation for construction jobs that don’t even exist yet?
That’s a tough one.
According to a recent report entitled An Apprenticeship Skills Agenda, we had better figure it out soon – 65 per cent of today’s elementary school children will go on to careers that haven’t been dreamed up yet.
The report, calls for bold, innovative and flexible skills and apprenticeship training to keep pace with advancing technology.
“The world is changing so fast that today’s conventional approaches to apprenticeship training are dated and no longer apply,” explains Joe Vaccaro, chair of the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance. “More jobs require modern, multi-skilled tradespeople who can multi-task and adjust to our economy changes. Ontario can be a leader in skilling up the next generation, but only if it’s willing to try new ways of training.”
Vaccaro’s comments are in reference to Ontario, but if you’re sitting in B.C. or Newfoundland right now, don’t kid yourself, this affects you too.
One of the biggest problems right now, is less than half of all apprentices actually complete their training. That tells us something about current training methods – they aren’t working.
Thanks to feedback from construction leaders, there are five recommendations to modernizing skills training that were born from this study:
1) Flexible, competency based certification that follows the precedent set by Microsoft in 2014, when it certified a five-year-old who passed the exam to become the world’s youngest computer specialist.
2) Ending the focus on time, ratios, compulsory and voluntary certification, a system that’s too rigid and confusing for many apprentices to navigate and complete.
3) Students dedicate 20 hours of community work to mastering trades and practical skills.
4) Life long learning requirement for tradespeople to keep skills current.
5) Creative online learning and 24-hour assessment to appeal to a tech savvy generation and get skilled trades in the workforce sooner.
Despite best efforts, the skills gap is widening. Up to 41 per cent of Ontario employers would hire more people, if they had the right skills.
It makes sense to ditch archaic thinking surrounding the old notion of “paying your dues,” but can the next generation really get up to speed that fast? Could a five-year-old operate a crane? And what role will safety play in our modernized training?
Obviously there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the future of skills development, but I would love to hear your thoughts on what needs to be done.
Corinne Lynds / Editor