Backgrounder: Union Training and Innovation Program


The Union Training and Innovation Program, which was announced in Budget 2016, will target the Red Seal trades and involve broad-based partnerships with a number of stakeholders. It is expected that the Program will:

  • help to improve the quality of training through investment in equipment;

  • incorporate greater union involvement in apprenticeship training; and,

  • support innovative approaches and partnerships with other stakeholders, including employers.

The Program is open to all unions, including those that do not provide training recognized by provinces and territories as in‑class technical apprenticeship training, and those that do not operate training facilities.

The skilled trades are a growing and a vital part of our economy, and promoting careers in these areas is critical to our future. Despite an increase in apprenticeship enrolment, the trades are still perceived as being a second choice over a university education. A 2012 survey indicated that even though two thirds of 15 year old students believe the skilled trades pay well, less than 10% reported that they definitely planned to pursue a career in the skilled trades. Those who expressed interest were also more likely to have lower scores in math, reading and problem-solving, which are barriers to successfully completing an apprenticeship program.

The Program aims to help groups that face additional barriers to participation and success in the trades, such as women and Indigenous people. Women’s representation in non-traditional Red Seal trades was at 4% in 2014. Challenges that women face to enter the trades include attitudinal barriers, lack of mentors, difficulty finding an employer, discrimination and family obligations.  Indigenous people also face similar barriers, in addition to others such as insufficient financial supports, cultural differences and negative stereotypes.

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