Electrical Business

Frontier developing building trades-based essential skills model

August 21, 2014 – In partnership with the Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) and its trades unions and affiliates, Frontier College will develop and test a building trades-based Literacy & Essential Skills (LES) programming model for 525 aspiring and current apprentices in eight sites across Canada.

The key objectives of the project are to:

• Increase registration, retention and completion in apprenticeship training
• Improve examination pass rates and attainment of trades certification
• Increase the integration of LES into apprenticeship programs and policies, trades training, and other services of construction trade unions and industry contractors.

The project will run from June 2014 to May 2017.


Frontier will work with participating trades and union affiliates in eight sites across Canada to design and implement programming that incorporates known best practices and addresses the specific needs and challenges of each community involved in the project. Qualified adult educators and volunteer tutors will be engaged to deliver upgrading support in classrooms, small groups and/or one-on-one sessions based on the needs and goals of the participants in each location.

Sites will be established in Saskatoon, Sask., and Toronto, Ont., in Year 1, with six additional sites to be launched in Years 2 and 3. A performance evaluation framework and participant tracking system will be developed, and ongoing program delivery and impact evaluation will inform implementation at new sites and final results of the pilot.

Participants will be referred and recruited from two groups:

• Current apprentices who need extra support to pass their Certificate of Qualification or to complete tasks of increasing difficulty on the job
• Aspiring apprentices who need academic upgrading to enter an apprenticeship program, including Aboriginal persons, new Canadians, women and youth.

By the end of this pilot project, the hope is:

• 525 individuals will be assessed and receive LES support
• At least 75% of aspiring apprentices will successfully enter an apprenticeship program
• At least 75% of participants will successfully pass required testing and exams, including mathematics and mechanical aptitude, General Educational Development, Certificate of Qualification, Red Seal or others
• At least 75% of participants will be continuously registered as apprentices OR successfully complete an apprenticeship
• 10% of participants will pursue other education, training or employment

To demonstrate increased knowledge and integration of LES into apprenticeship programs and policies, trades training and other services of construction trade unions and industry contractors, Frontier College will report on a series of evaluation activities:

• Intake and exit interview results for at least 525 participants and 15 union staff directly involved with the project
• Dissemination of project information and results to at least 200 delegates at four conferences
• Survey results to demonstrate LES knowledge and perceptions of the project training model and outcomes from at least 100 conference delegates
• At least six (75%) pilot site union affiliates will make this model part of their ongoing programming

CBTU claims it is the national voice of over half-a-million Canadian construction workers—members of 14 international unions who work in more than 60 different trades and occupations. Officially, CBTU is the Canadian Office of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO (BCTD).

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