Apprenticeship training is a method of learning a skilled trade through a combination of practical training (about 85%) in the workplace and technical training (about 15%). An individual who wants to be trained and certified in a skilled trade must first be employed in one of Nova Scotia's 71 designated trades and be registered through a formal apprenticeship agreement recognized by the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency. The on-the-job practical training is supervised by a certified journeyperson and guided by a logbook that identifies each of the skills and tasks to be learned. The technical training is based upon a training standard that augments the practical training and assists the apprentice with the theory portion of their respective trade. When the apprentice has successfully completed the hours worked in the trade, all of the practical skills, technical training and level exams (if required), he or she writes a certification examination. Upon successful completion of the certification examination, the individual receives a Certificate of Apprenticeship and a Certificate of Qualification in that trade from the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency. If the trade is a Red Seal trade, a Red Seal endorsement will be affixed to the Certificate of Qualification will, which is recognized across the country.
The legislative authority for the apprenticeship system in Nova Scotia is the Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act, General Regulations and the Operating Charter of the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency. Under the Act, the Minister of Labour and Advanced Education is responsible for the general supervision and management of the Act, Operating Charter and regulations. Under the direction of the Apprenticeship Board, the Chief Executive Officer is responsible for the general leadership and management of the Agency and reports to the Deputy Minister of the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.
Forty-six of the 71 designated trades in Nova Scotia have trade-specific regulations and 13 of the 71 are specified as compulsory certified trades. To work in a compulsory trade, an individual must hold a Certificate of Qualification, be a registered apprentice, or hold a temporary permit in the trade. For an up-to-date list of all designated trades, refer to the Agency's website.
The Provincial Apprenticeship Board
The Board is responsible for advising and making recommendations to the Minister on matters pertaining to the apprenticeship and trades qualifications system and holds regulatory authority regarding voluntary trades. Under the Act and according to the Operating Charter, the Minister may appoint a Board made up of no more than 15 persons. Ten members are employer or employee representatives of the 4 trade sectors: 4 are from the construction sector and 2 representatives are from each the industrial/manufacturing, motive power and service sectors. Of the five remaining members, one is the Vice-President, Academic of the Nova Scotia Community College and 4 members are members-at-large. Member-at-large seats are often appointed to individuals representing diverse and/or under-represented groups in the skilled trades.
The Board has a duty to communicate with and enhance the participation of apprenticeship and trades qualifications system stakeholders; inform apprenticeship and trades qualifications system policy decisions; liaise with provincial and inter-provincial partners; develop and influence the development of apprenticeship and trades qualifications system regulations; administer and ensure compliance with the apprenticeship and trades qualifications system; provide for the internal administration of the Board and its committees; and establish trade advisory committees to advise the Board concerning any matters relating to the apprenticeship and trades qualifications system.
Under the General Regulations made pursuant to the Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act, the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency has authority to prescribe the standards for apprenticeship training and trade certification in Nova Scotia.
The Agency's Standards and Examinations staff are responsible for the development, implementation and review of occupational standards, curriculum standards, logbooks and examinations in designated trades. Staff consult extensively with apprenticeship stakeholders and partners – including industry, advisory committees, subject matter experts and training providers – to ensure they are engaged throughout the development cycle.
The Agency's Standards and Examinations staff oversees Nova Scotia's role in the Red Seal Program and related initiatives to ensure the province meets interprovincial responsibilities. These staff collaborate with Atlantic and national counterparts to ensure and maintain the integrity of the Red Seal Program and related standards; to increase consistency and harmonization in apprenticeship delivery; and to improve labour mobility.
The Red Seal Program is the Canadian standard of excellence for skilled trades. Formally known as the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program, it promotes and facilitates the standardization of apprenticeship training and sets common standards to assess the skills of tradespersons across Canada. Tradespersons who meet the Red Seal standards receive a Red Seal endorsement on their provincial/territorial trade certificates. There are currently 56 designated Red Seal trades.
The Red Seal Program is administered by the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) and funded by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Each Director of Apprenticeship for each jurisdiction in Canada sits as a member of the CCDA. It is a forum for interjurisdictional collaboration in support of developing a certified, highly skilled and mobile trades workforce in Canada.
The Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency is also an active participant in the Atlantic Apprenticeship Harmonization Project (AAHP) to harmonize trades and improve apprentice mobility throughout Atlantic Canada. The AAHP is the primary focus of the Atlantic Apprenticeship Council (AAC), which is composed of the Apprenticeship Board Chairs and Directors of Apprenticeship from each of the four Atlantic Provinces. The goal of the AAC is to work cooperatively to foster the development of a highly-skilled workforce and to work regionally to facilitate and share best practices in order to streamline mobility of workers. The desired outcomes of the AAC are to create efficiencies in time and resources, and to promote consistency in training and apprentice mobility.
External and Internal Review
Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) is the primary deliverer of apprenticeship technical trades training. It provides both traditional classroom and shop training, technical training and online options for apprentices. Technical training is also provided by the United Association Local 56, Plumbers and Pipefitters; the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 116; the Nova Scotia Boatbuilders Association; and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 625. In practice, Agency staff work with these training providers to develop curriculum standards and examinations based on the occupational standard for the trade. Occupational standards, curriculum standards logbooks and examinations are validated by industry.
Other Organizations Related to Quality Assurance in Colleges and Apprenticeship
Nova Scotia Community College is a member of the Colleges and Institutes Canada. Colleges and Institutes Canada does not perform formal quality assurance functions, but it does promote quality programming and the use of high academic standards, by conducting research and facilitating broad discussion on quality assurance issues.
The Association of Accrediting Agencies of Canada (AAAC) is a national organization composed of professional associations involved in promoting good practices by its members in accreditation of educational programs.
The Atlantic Provinces Community College Consortium (APCCC) was established in 1998 as an informal consortium of departments and institutions to enhance cooperation across the community colleges in the four Atlantic provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. The activities, initiatives, and projects of the consortium are designed to reflect the values and principles agreed to by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC). Key areas of performance expectations that reflect these values include quality and accountability. The primary activities of the APCCC include sharing information, issues, and solutions and generally promoting consistency, cooperation, joint initiatives, and transferability across institutions. The impact of the consortium on program quality is indirect.