The future of flexible trades training

The Industry Training Authority of BC (ITA) announced April 7, 2010 its decision to pause and wind down the current phase of E-PPRENTICE. The ITA had determined that additional E-PPRENTICE programs would not be eligible for funding under the BC-Canada Labour Market Agreement (LMA), and decided to suspend future development of the E-PPRENTICE initiative until alternate funding sources can be secured and new strategies for flexible learning developed.

British Columbia’s E-PPRENTICE program was a new, more flexible way for apprentices to complete their technical training. It was funded and sponsored by the ITA, and BCcampus was responsible for leading and coordinating the initiative on its behalf. The E-PPRENTICE initiative aligned with the BCcampus goal of assisting B.C.’s public post-secondary institutions create a unified system where programs are developed collaboratively, delivered efficiently utilizing shared educational technologies, and where information and student data flow securely between institutions.

Funding for E-PPRENTICE was originally secured by ITA from the BC-Canada LMA which supports investment in labour market programs. The LMA funding was used to develop innovative, flexible delivery models including interactive and e-learning components to encourage participation of LMA- eligible apprentices for existing trades programs. Further funding for E-PPRENTICE had been negotiated by ITA from the federal Pan Canadian Innovation Initiative dependent on the continued availability of the LMA funds.

As a result of the ITA decision to wind down E-PPRENTICE, BCcampus is winding down its current phase of activity. This is an opportune time to summarize accomplishments of E-PPRENTICE, and propose future developments in the event E-PPRENTICE is revitalized.

E-PPRENTICE Accomplishments

E-PPRENTICE programs offer flexible learning options for several Red Seal trades – this is an accomplishment in itself in that apprentices can take their technical training through e-learning, reducing time away from their communities and employers.

A number of organizations, project teams, and stakeholder groups have contributed much energy and enthusiasm to E-PPRENTICE on behalf of the trades training system in B.C. Here are some of the accomplishments resulted from their activities:

  • Creation of a consortia approach: bringing together trades organizations, training providers, new media and e-learning companies for development and pilot delivery of E-PPRENTICE trades programs.
  • Funding was awarded for automotive service and auto collision repair technician, professional cook, and welding. First enrolments took place in 2009-2010.
  • Development of flexible learning models that enable more apprentices to take their technical training where and when it best suits them.

The Future of E-PPRENTICE

Though E-PPRENTICE may be ‘on pause’ for the next while, there is much to be accomplished when a flexible learning strategy for trades training resumes.

In anticipation of renewed funding, an updated strategy and business plan, and a new governance model, BCcampus could provide a number of services as a partner agency for E-PPRENTICE over the next few years.:

  • Work with institutions in a manner similar to the BCcampus Online Program Development Fund (OPDF) as a mechanism for managing innovative development of reusable trades training resources, and licensing resources within the province, nationally or internationally.
  • Host reusable trades resources in a shared online learning resource repository federated with the BCcampus SOL*R repository.
  • Provide shared educational applications and services for use in the delivery of trades programs, in a manner similar to the way BCcampus provides such services for academic institutions in B.C.
  • Develop automated student registration and reporting services to enable province-wide collaborative program models.
  • Utilizing federated identity models and BCcampus connector technologies to automate the data collection and information transfer requirements for trades programs.

E-PPRENTICE has an integral role to play in the evolution of trades training in B.C. The future of E-PPRENTICE is uncertain, but we are optimistic that the efforts of those individuals, project teams, organizations and stakeholder groups involved in E-PPRENTICE will provide a firm foundation for significant future work in flexible learning.

For more information contact Lawrence Parisotto.

Lawrence Parisotto

Director, Flexible Learning for Trades Training
Telephone: 604-412-7715
lparisotto [at] bccampus [dot] ca