Category Archives: News

Good News for Canadian Coastal Apprentices

From the Atlantic …

Atlantic_provinces_mapBy Shaund Wikimedia Commons

 

Sorry for not posting for so long but I have been in class for the last week attending PIDP 3250 Instructional Techniques and completing my assignments for PIDP 3230 before that but now it is time to get back to my blog and update what is happening in the world of Canadian apprentices.   Great news for apprentices in Atlantic Canada, the four provincial governments have signed a memorandum of agreement to establish common training, certification and standards.   This will allow apprentices to move from province to province as they pursue their trade and not have to reregister with each jurisdiction.

This goes a long way towards solving one of the biggest hurdles that Canadian apprentices face, the existence of thirteen different and competing systems in the provinces and territories.   This makes it difficult when apprentices have to change jurisdictions in order to keep working in order to get the hours needed so they can qualify as a journeyperson.

Hopefully other provinces will follow suit and we can have a national apprenticeship system so apprentices can work where needed and carry their log book and hours with them and not face the hassle of having to reapply every time they cross a provincial or territorial border.

To the Pacific

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By  Robert C. Michelson Wikimedia Commons

Anyone in British Columbia looking for a job as an Apprenticeship Advisor?  The Industry Training Authority is looking for Apprenticeship Advisors.  A total of 15 will be in place across the province by December 2014.   The main job of the  Apprenticeship Advisors is to work with stakeholders to raise awareness of BC’s apprenticeship program and provide guidance to apprentices and their employers.

This comes about after a study  commissioned by the ITA found that:

Participants reported that frustration among apprentices seems to be widespread and ongoing throughout the apprenticeship journey, yet there was no clear place for feedback or help.  Sponsors also expressed concern with the lack of information they receive about their roles and responsibilities.

Now apprentices and their employers will have someone from their local community that they can turn to for advice.  This should help increase apprentice retention rates.   Apprenticeship Advisors are already in place in Prince George, Kelowna, Nanaimo, and Terrace.

Anyone interested in applying can learn more from the ITA website.   Click here for more information about your local Apprenticeship Advisor

 

Evaluation of Instruction

Having just spent the previous week in the 3230 course “Evaluation of Learning” it was the word evaluation that caught my eye as I scrolled through the latest daily update from Ken Steele at Academica.

The article talked about the process of student evaluation of instructors and what an important impact it can have on the instructor’s careers.  In the PDIP program we are taught to make the students responsible for their own learning.  In the 3230 course we are told to concentrate on our student’s success in meeting the course objectives.  Their success is the measure of the effectiveness of our instruction.  We were taught to use a formative assessment strategy, using a variety of verifiable and reliable assessment techniques in order to gauge our students’ progress.  At the end of the course students were handed a piece of paper and asked to make a summative evaluation of the instructor.

Anyway it was interesting reading in the Slate article some of the vindictive comments that students make in their evaluations.  I like the idea of having students sign their evaluations and take ownership of their views and attitudes.  This seems to gel well with the philosophy of students taking responsibility for their own learning.

Apprenticeship/Journeyman Ratio

Tim Hudak of Ontario is the latest Conservative politician to jump on the apprenticeship is good bandwagon.  Just recently Jason Kenney flies to Germany with a delegation of businessmen to study their world class apprenticeship system.   Even Jim Flaherty as Finance Minister got in on the act before he died.

I know this because I have been lucky enough to have worked with some German trained journeymen.   I learned some valuable tips of the trade that I pass on to the apprentices and young journeypersons who will listen so they are not all lost.  Why reinvent the wheel?   it just keeps coming out round.

In medievial  times  journeymen(French journée) was just a stage between apprenticeship and master craftsman.  Journeymen and their families would travel from master craftsman to master craftsman to learn different aspects and ways of practicing their trade.   The goal was to one day become a master craftsman themselves. (1)

 Working with many  journeypersons is beneficial for an apprentice because they are presented with a variety of ways to produce a product or service and to solve a problem.  It engages their higher level thinking skills as they judge which method is best for them. This is essential for innovation and design.  Journeypersons who work at a variety of different companies gain a catalogue of best practices that they can take with them throughout their working life.  This is why it is called skilled labour.

One of the major problems is that companies look at labour as a cost rather than seeing that a well trained work force is actually an asset.  That is why they cut their investment in training by 40% since 1993. (2).  I have seen too many companies just treating their apprentices as a source of cheap labour.  They keep the apprentices performing one or two tasks and don’t give them the opportunity to explore the full scope of their trade.  At work I would advise apprentices that I heard complaining about the task they were stuck performing to not do  it so good because that is why they were stuck doing it.

This might go back to the very idea of an apprenticeship as being  indentured to another human being.  Just read some of the language in the Revised Statutes of Ontario in 1970 (3) .  I was an electrical apprentice in Ontario in 1968 when the Progressive Conservatives under Premier John Robards ruled and my union employer had a 4 journeypersons to 1 apprentice ration.  It was just the way the system worked, it was fair, it applied equally to everyone.  In 1956 my father agreed to work an extra 6 months as an apprentice in order to keep working rather being a laid off journeyman, it was his choice.

Having a higher ratio means that once you are a journeyperson there would be work for you and you can put your training to good use.   When journeypersons see apprentices as a threat to their livelihood which I have seen happen in the 1/1 ratio system I worked in Alberta.   Journeypersons won’t share their knowledge or model professional behaviour to apprentices on the job because they fear if the apprentice becomes too proficient the higher priced journeyperson is vulnerable to lay off.

A bigger problem we face in Canada which is also a problem in Germany is lack of a coordinated federal apprenticeship education programs. You need a tool like the Ellis chart (7) to figure out all the different criteria.

Ontario in 1978 was still had a Progressive Conservative government but Bill Davis was now premier.  I decided to upgrade my skills and I took a 40 week course to gain entry into the welding trade.  I graduated with two Ontario pipe welding tickets.  Due to a shortage of work  I took my tickets west to Alberta to find that I would have to start at the bottom and challenge my way up.  At work I found they were more interested in my blue print reading skills than my welding so I began steel fabricating.

Another problem we face in Canada is that apprentices are not going through school in a timely fashion.  In my own experience I started steel fabricating in 1980 but it wasn’t until 1988 it became its own trade with its own curriculum and the Progressive Conservative government finally finished Westerra College and it had school space.  I ended up using my 8 years of experience to challenge the exam.  Studies  “showed that accessing any type of technical training greatly increased the probability of completion”. (4)

Studies also show that contrary to what Conservative politicians will tell you that “Bilginsoy (2003) shows that membership in a union is positively related to completion rates.” (5)  So I would suggest to Tim Hudak that he his supply side conservative friends that they fix some of the problems they caused rather than instead of constantly bashing unions.   Here in BC the government is busy rebuilding the apprenticeship system they let go a decade ago in order to boost apprenticeship completion rates and meet the demand for skilled trades people.  (6)

As I mentioned earlier corporations and their conservative friends see labour as a cost that must be kept down at all costs.   The funny thing is that one of the things that leads to the success of the German apprenticeship system that they admire is the German industrial system of union/management cooperation (7)

We need an apprenticeship system that allows our apprentices to develop their higher order thinking and problem solving skills in order to be considered truly skilled labour.

New Scoops – May 3, 2014

13 Very Different Tools To Help Students Find Their Voice

Infographic: Competency-Based Teacher Preparation & Professional Development

How to Be More Productive On Social Media

11 Essential Ingredients Every Blog Post Needs

Moving To Online Teaching: Issues and Resources For Educators – Skilledup.com

21 Ways to Check for Student Understanding

Chalkup: Social Learning Platform, Simple Learning Management.

Jumpstarting Edtech Innovation in Germany (EdSurge News)

Good Bye PIDP 3240

I am writing this on the eve of submitting this blog to my Instuctor Brian Cassell for grading.   This is my 8th blog posting since my Provincial Instructor Diploma Program (PDIP) 3240  “Media Enhanced Learning” course started at the beginning of March.  I set myself the goal of making one blog post per week along with the regular discussion forum postings and journal assignments that were part of the course curriculum.  I was also part of the Social Media component so blogging, Facebook and Twitter became part of my life.

As a “digital immigrant” coming into the digital age of the internet at the age of 48 and someone who’s “smart” phone is an old Blackberry (I just upgraded my old Playbook to a new Samsung Galaxy Note  8.0) this was fairly challenging.  Looking around I can see why the younger “digital natives” are glued to their wireless devices.  Pocket size cell phones can make videos and sound recordings, take photos and within minutes it goes out to a global audience.  Your 15 minutes of fame is just the right #hashtag, likes, hits or social media strategy away.

The most important thing that I learned in the social media component is that I had to develop a social media strategy in order to use the medium effectively.  I learned that people will follow people who provided good content, not just re-tweeting or sharing the latest cat meme.  Google does has its limits so I looked for sites like Scoop.it and Redditt where you can set up tag searches and find content posted by others with a similar interests.  Good content is curated content, ask any librarian.  With the vast amount of dubious content on the internet it is important to verify your sources before posting or reposting their content in order to maintain your own credibility.  This is something that has to be passed on to our students.

I used the keywords:

social media, technology,construction, apprenticeship,teaching and Canada 

as tags and set up the topic of Adult Education in general keying in on Apprenticeship Training in order to narrow my subject field further.  I am interested in teaching in this field upon graduation and I am also teaching some general interest welding and fabricating courses at the Vancouver Community Laboratory (CoLab).  In order to facilitate this I set up two RSS feeds from Google News.  This brings the content right to my blog and it is constantly being updated.  I also have accounts on Redditt and Scoop.it along with my Facebook and Twitter feeds in order to provide more sources for content for my blog.  I recently set up a Facebook page for the blog which I can use to regularly post content to and as I get into the habit, it will be easy to remember to sharing it with the VCC/SIE  Facebook page too.

I had a Twitter account that I never really used so I had to learn how it all worked.  I used to think it was place that people told the world what they had for breakfast.  I learned that #hashtags are useful for sorting through content and I will have to get into the habit of using them more often in my tweets,  which I will have to start providing on a regular, consistent basis.   At the same time realize that quality is better than quantity.

I found the Discussion Forums to be a useful place to share lots of interesting information with my classmates and learn a bit about their field of expertise and what their interests were.  The forum discussions are a fantastic learning resource with links to a vast amount of information on the discussion subjects.  I posted my contributions to the blog and I incorporated many of the Web 2.0 Tools and videos posted by my classmates into the resource section of my blog so they can be used for future reference.  Thanks to all my talented classmates for finding them for me.  I have also included some of the course materials I created for the PIDP 3100, 3210 and 3220 courses.  I look upon this blog as a research portal I can use as I complete the PID Program.

digital bloom pyramid author samantha penney cc

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Author: Samantha Penney

So what are my overall feelings as the course comes to an end?  Hopefully I will get to meet some of my classmates face to face as I continue my studies.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to access the ooVoo chats so I missed out on a crucial aspect of forming an online study community.  I don’t feel I made the same level of connection with my classmates as I have when I took classroom courses.  It is just part of being flesh and blood human beings we are part of nature and we need that personal connection.  A primevial part of me feels sorry for the people I see around me immersed in their digital devices.  How will they hear the predator that’s sneaking up to devour them?

Thanks Brian for facilitating the course and thanks to my classmates for providing such an immense amount of information on digital instruction and online learning.  I will continue to follow your blogs, your tweets and your Facebook posts.  I learned a lot about how technology is rapidly changing the delivery of education online from the brick and mortar institutions and how can this best serve our learners.  As an adult educators I realize that technology is just a tool I need to master in order to facilitate learning and understanding amongst my students.  This course is just a start.

e-apprenticeship

Thanks to Allen Beliveau from my PIDP 3240 course  for posting the paper by Bradley D. Hartwig from SFU Faculty of Education “e-Apprenticeship: Establishing Viability of Modern Technology in Traditional Practice”.  Published in 2007 the paper looked at the views of apprentices towards learning their trade online rather than at a traditional vocational institution.  It also looked at the history of the BC apprenticeship system and apprenticeships in general.

One of the problems of the present system is that many apprentices must travel to attend school.  This entails added expenses at the same time you are not working and earning a wage.  In some cases EI will pay you but this is still a reduction in income.  In an e-apprenticeship the apprentice would learn their theory online while doing their practical work in their workplace.  Since there is a 30% non-completion rate for BC apprentices it is simple economics to remove any barriers we can to make sure apprentices successfully become journeypersons.

One disadvantage of this approach is that many employers look upon apprentices as a source of cheap labour.  Many can spend their whole apprenticeship doing a limited variety of the trade related tasks.  Government and institutions would have to spend a large amount of money to develop a comprehensive curriculum and the learning tools to support it.  There would have to be follow up process to make sure that the apprentice was getting the proper coaching and mentoring that similar institutional classes provide.  One advantage of this system is I have heard apprentices returning from school complain about how school failed to replicate the real world conditions of the work place.

Another advantage of an e-apprenticeship is that you can quickly incorporate new technologies and procedures into the curriculum.  In this day and age change is occurring at an ever increasing rate.  A disadvantage of an e-apprenticeship system is that many small and medium sized businesses can not give their apprentices the wild range of training that the curriculum might require.  The government and training institutions would have to insure equality of opportunity for all apprentices right across the province.

The amount of labour and coaching required by online learners is another disadvantage of online learning.  According to Palloff and Pratt (1999) an online course would take 18 hours of instructor time compared to 6.5 to 7.5 hours for a face-to-face lecture course.  There would also be a learning curve in both learner and instructor learning as to how to best utilize the software and learning modules.  This would also require an IT support team as students and instructors ran into computer problems.

One advantage of having the employer take responsibility for the practical training of an apprentice is that it involves them to take more of an interest and ownership over the development of their apprentices.  Journeypersons would have to take on a more meaningful mentorship role.  However one of the main concerns of the apprentices surveyed was that they would miss the camaraderie and connections they get in a classroom.  Also they said they would miss the peer to peer learning and teaching that takes place.  This could be overcome by having gatherings of local apprentices from various trades coming together to learn material common to all trades.  This would also get apprentices out of their trade silos and get new perspectives.

Returning to in-house training of apprentices hearkens back to the days of the medieval guilds.  In some ways going forward is going backwards, but it must be done carefully at this time and involve all stakeholders.  The paper talked about some pilot projects that were using e-apprenticeship and I believe this is the way to proceed.  Since the BC government is investing over $30 million in a new Trades Education facility at Camosun College, e-apprenticeship isn’t on the top of their agenda.

How do you teach this type of welding

 

Journeyperson Mentorship Program

In Newfoundland/Labrador the Department of Advanced Education and Skills has a Journeyperson Mentorship Program that provides funds to eligible employers to hire a journeyperson to mentor an apprentice to allow their apprentices to get the training and hours to complete their apprenticeship.

Journeypersons in provincially recognized trades, that require 4500 hours or more of combined school and work hours are eligible to be mentors.  An employer can choose a person who is currently employed in their field or is retired from their field who has at least five years experience.

This program is open to private employers particularly small and medium sized businesses in the profit or non-profit sector who “Have the capacity to employ a minimum of three apprentices and pay all associated employment expenses from own resources.”  They must also have an office location base in the province and be able to provide a minimum of six months work in the trade.

Apprentices must be registered with the provincial apprenticeship program or be eligible to register.  Journeyperson/mentors must have a “Certificate of Qualification” in a NL designated trade along with a minimum of five years experience with a minimum of two years employment as a journeyperson in the trade in the last ten years.

This is a great idea for the employers because it compensates companies that train apprentices by allowing them to hire skilled journeypersons to mentor and train them, building a productive team of employees.  It is good for journeypersons because it encourages them to take a more active role in training and mentoring apprentices.  It reaches out to our retired journeypersons and allows them to share their knowledge acquired over years of work in the field.  Finally for apprentices they get the training, mentoring and hours so they can successfully complete their trade and maybe one day become mentors themselves.

Advance Education and Skills

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