Article

Pilot Project

0 26 Labour

by Journal Of Commerce

The pilot project class had electrical apprentices sailing through their program in record time, with one slicing the 10-week-long curriculum nearly in half by completing it in five and half weeks. Others finished in six or seven weeks. The course lets the student learn at their speed rather than having to pace the curriculum timetable.

Trades Training

PORT COQUITLAM

A pilot project completed at the Port Coquitlam campus of Sprott-Shaw College, in conjunction with the Industry Training Authority (ITA) and the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA), is indicating that electrical apprentice students can handle a faster learning process.

The pilot project class had electrical apprentices sailing through their program in record time, with one slicing the 10-week-long curriculum nearly in half by completing it in five and half weeks. Others finished in six or seven weeks. The course lets the student learn at their speed rather than having to pace the curriculum timetable.

During the pilot program, tuition was free and apprentices were selected on a first come, first served basis. The curriculum was equivalent to the current B.C. Level One standard, and students were eligible for EI benefits while they were taking the course.

Jason Gilchrist, who completed the course in less than six weeks, was pleased that the program allowed “real go-getters” such as him to race ahead and learn on their own. “I did a lot of outside reading, stayed ten hours every class period, as well as studying before the course. I liked that I could take it at my own pace,” Gilchrist said

Cal Purcell, Sprott-Shaw vice-president, said that while the pilot course was longer at 37.5 hours, compared to the conventional 30-hour programs, the students “did very well. We were all very impressed with their performance.”

The program offered student flexibility in learning speed either through the ability to receive classroom instruction or individual instructor help. “But, going at their own pace, generally meant they went faster,” said Purcell.

More classes at other Sprott-Shaw campuses throughout the province are expected to follow the successful pilot, Purcell said. “We’re hoping to start similar classes in Prince George, Kamloops, Victoria, Chilliwack and Nanaimo. There’s demand everywhere for electrical apprentices, but we have to make sure it’s logistically doable,” he said.

The pilot program draws from a successful initiative run out of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton. “The class was closely aligned to the NAIT model and materials. Where there were differences, such as with our use of WorkSafeBC, additional material was added,” ITA communications director Lisa Dooling said.

Quick completion of the course meant less time spent off the job, but the course itself and others like it also alleviate pressure throughout the educational system, Dooling said.

“At BCIT they’re doing welding classes in shifts, because there’s so much pressure for new workers. With schools running out of capacity, this course and others provide much-needed physical space,” she said.

ICBA president Phil Hochstein was happy to lend his support to the initiative.

“Our participating employers welcome the flexibility and efficiency of this new approach, and hope it continues into the future. Human resources are in short supply in this province and this industry, and anything that adds more skilled workers to the labour pool is a good thing,” Hochstein said.

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