Quebec s Apprenticeship System

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1 Introduction Quebec s Apprenticeship System Unlike the majority of Canadian provinces and territories, apprenticeship in Quebec takes place entirely in the workplace, with hands-on training replacing all theoretical training components generally undertaken in a school environment elsewhere. Rather than students, apprentices are primarily workers developing and acquiring skills in a production setting. The goal is quick integration into the labour market while promoting workplace-specific skills development and formal certification 1. Those embarking on an apprenticeship must be at least 16 years of age and, in the case of a construction trade, may require a Diplôme d études professionelles (DEP) (diploma of vocational studies). As in most jurisdictions, a journeyperson mentors the apprentice to meet the specialized skills needs of the trade. For regulated qualifications, certification is obtained by passing a written exam at the end of the apprenticeship. For voluntary qualifications, certification occurs when the journeyperson confirms the apprentice has mastered all the necessary skills of the trade. Economic context Of Canada s 18.6 million workers, 4.3 million (23 per cent) live and work in Quebec. Quebec s service sector accounts for almost 70 per cent of its gross domestic product. Most construction trades are experiencing relatively high demand, particularly crane operators, electricians, roofers and flooring installers. An increase in civil engineering projects is also expected to lead to a greater need for heavy equipment mechanics and operators. 2 According to Emploi-Québec (Employment Quebec), construction millwrights, industrial mechanics, cooks, landscapers and welders are among the 87 occupations in the highest demand. Regulating apprenticeship in Quebec Four separate bodies oversee apprenticeship and certification, with responsibilities divided according to the economic sector and whether a trade is regulated or voluntary. There are more than 200,000 workers in regulated professions. Four organizations oversee regulated qualifications in specific sectors: the Ministère de l Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale (MESS) (Ministry of Employment and Social 1 Please note that certification and professional recognition are the same in this article

2 Solidarity); the Ministère de l Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (MELS) (Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sport); the Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ) (Quebec Construction Commission); and parity committees. The Ministère du Travail (Ministry of Labour) is responsible for legislation governing the Commission de la construction du Québec and parity committees. In the automotive sector, six parity committees oversee 22,000 workers. Compulsory qualifications of the Ministère de l Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale MESS monitors nearly 65,000 certificates, with some 11,000 workers registered in a regulated apprenticeship program. MESS is responsible for 58 qualifications in the nonconstruction sector and maintains three experience attestations. Of these qualifications, 35 are the direct responsibility of MESS and 23 others address regulations of other agencies or ministries. To obtain a certificate from MESS (issued by Emploi Québec), workers must generally complete a mandatory training component, undertake a relatively long apprenticeship period under the supervision of a journeyperson, and pass a written exam. The mastery of skills must be signed off by the journeyperson before an apprentice is eligible to write the theoretical exam. Thirty certificates 3 include a mandatory in-school training component, the length of which varies (not exceeding 160 hours) depending on the qualification. The length of the apprenticeship period, however, varies significantly from less than 100 hours (e.g. Class 4 certificate in gas appliance techniques) to as many as 6,000 (e.g. certificate in elevator mechanics). A number of certificates issued on behalf of other ministries or agencies do not involve on-the-job apprenticing, but require mandatory training from 7 hours (e.g. Halocarbons) to 125 hours (e.g. Complete Surface Water Treatment). Regulated qualifications are developed in partnership with the industry, which contributes to apprenticeship guides and exams. For each trade, an industry task force helps identify the required outcomes of apprenticeship. Regulated qualifications of the Commission de la construction du Québec The CCQ oversees nearly 68,000 journeypersons and 51,000 apprentices, along with 25,000 occupational certificate holders. Twenty-six trades and approximately 30 occupations are practised in Quebec, the former being defined by regulation, the latter by the construction industry s collective agreements. Only the trades require apprenticeship training. Stakeholders in the construction industry (e.g. unions, 3 Five additional limited certificates acquired under previous regulations are excluded from this description as they are no longer issued. 2

3 employers and government) manage the apprenticeship system and actively work together to implement it, governed by three regulations 4 addressing issues ranging from access to vocational qualification. An apprenticeship program is calculated in terms of both hours spent practising the trade and hours of vocational training/upgrading. An apprenticeship is divided into periods of 2,000 hours each and the number of periods varies by trade. The shortest construction apprenticeship lasts for one period (Roofer, Crane Operator) and the longest for five (Elevator Mechanic). 5 To undertake a construction apprenticeship, candidates must receive a competency certificate based on completion of a general health and safety course, a Diplôme d études professionelles (DEP) or, in the case of a labour shortage, the required prerequisites to obtain a DEP. DEP is a program of study that reproduces conditions students will encounter at construction sites, giving graduates privileged access to the construction industry. The length and location of these programs varies depending on the trade and the occupation. While it is possible to enter the industry without this diploma, those without it are subject to mandatory training. Upon registration, the apprentice receives an apprenticeship booklet in which to track hours worked, apprenticeship hour credits and employer contact information. When one period is completed, a new booklet is sent to the apprentice. Voluntary qualification In April 2002, the present voluntary apprenticeship program replaced the previous voluntary mechanism, which was based on occupational analyses. The voluntary apprenticeship program is the responsibility of Emploi Québec and the Commission des partenaires du marché du travail. For voluntary trades, businesses are able to increase staff skill levels with a view to having their employees obtain a certificate of vocational qualification or a skills attestation aligned with an occupational standard under Quebec s Workplace Apprenticeship Program (WAP). The occupational standard is the benchmark for the development of training modes and for skills acquisition, mastery and recognition in the workplace. Occupational standards are developed by a sectoral workforce committee in collaboration with the Commission des partenaires du marché du travail (CPMT). The 4 1) Regulation respecting the vocational training of workforce in the construction industry, 2) Regulation respecting the issuance of competency certificates, and 3) Regulation respecting the hiring and mobility of employees in the construction industry. 5 ofil=grandpublic 3

4 standard must meet a labour market need and obtain consensus in the employment sector concerned. The standard is then submitted for the Minister s approval. Once approved, the occupational standard serves as a reference for developing apprenticeship programs and issuing qualification certificates and skills attestations. The occupational standard describes a trade and is broken down into as many skills as are required for autonomous practice and mastery of the trade. Standards provide information about training needs and the exemplary practice of the trade, including the context in which the trade is practised and the associated skills and performance criteria. Qualification certificates are issued by Emploi Québec at the end of a successful apprenticeship. In the event that trade skills are only partially mastered, an attestation (credential) may be granted. To date, 54 occupational standards have been introduced, providing 136 different certificates. More than 20 others are in development. Since the introduction of WAP, more than 36,000 workers have participated and more than 17,000 have been certified. The vocational and technical training system The number of students enrolled in the various vocational and technical training programs in Quebec has risen to nearly 200, 000 a year. Over 40, 000 diplomas are awarded each year to vocational training students and nearly 30, 000 to technical training students. Sustainable entry into the labour market is the primary objective of Quebec s vocational and technical training system. Within a year of finishing their studies, roughly three-quarters of vocational and technical training graduates obtain a job and, in more than 85 percent of cases, it is full time. Secondary schools offer, among other things, vocational training programs. CEGEPs, private colleges and some government schools offer technical training. Vocational and technical training providers Nearly 280 government vocational or technical training programs help meet the needs of businesses and individuals. Training programs are developed for specific skills. Vocational training The aim of the vocational education programs is to train students for skilled or semiskilled trades. They require knowledge and precise techniques, relying on practical 4

5 skills that involve the performance of concrete activities and the systematic handling of tools, instruments and machinery. The vocational and departmental programs of study fall into two categories. Study programs (140) leading to a Diplôme d études professionelles (DEP) leads to full qualification in a skilled trade. Program length varies from 600 to 1,800 hours of training over one or two years. To participate, individuals must have a high school diploma or, depending on the program of study, be 16 years old and finished the third or fourth year of high school. Study programs (25) leading to a governmental Attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (Attestation of Vocational Specialization) allows for trade specialization. To qualify, an individual must hold a DEP in a related field or have equivalent employment experience. Programs of study vary between 330 and 1,185 hours of vocational or technical training, usually completed in less than a year. For the past few years, secondary studies school board have been offering courses that lead to an attestation of professional studies. These programs aim to respond to immediate workforce demand. School boards issue these shortterm training programs that they develop internally, usually targeting performance of specific skilled trade duties. Technical Training The Diplôme d études collégiales de la formation technique (Diploma of College Studies in Technical Training) is a government diploma that sanctions success in a technical program of study (110 technical training programs). The technical programs of study prepare students to practise their professions and enable them to master practical applications in production and in workplace settings. The total training length in a technical program of study varies between 2,010 to 3,060 hours and is usually spread out over three years. Technical training programs leading to a Diploma of College Studies (around 600) are developed and provided by CEGEPs. These programs allow students, just like the Diploma of College Studies in Technical Training, to become technicians or technologists. From a training continuity perspective, considerable effort is put into creating bridges between vocational training and technical training. As such, a number of programs of study are now part of the training continuity path. These help promote access to college 5

6 education, facilitate the school pathways between secondary and postsecondary education, and promote vocational and technical training. Nearly 30 training continuity pathways are currently being developed or implemented. School board and CEGEPs offer permanent training services to answer to business and individual needs. This training is prepared around official study programs, and can lead to varied attestations from training providers. Links to resources for under-represented groups in apprenticeship in Quebec Aboriginal groups: Vocational Training Centre for Aboriginals in the Construction Trades (VTCACT) Women: Concours Chapeau les filles! Youth: Découvrir un métier, une profession Additional resources Emploi Québec Regulated trades (MESS) Workplace Apprenticeship Program Commission de la construction du Québec (English page) The information network on vocational and technical training in Quebec Vocational and technical training in Quebec, 2010 version Tout pour réussir (Heading for Success) 6

7 For more information, please call the Centre administratif de la qualification professionnelle at Article contributors Melissa Sanzari, la Direction de la Qualification réglementée Guy Saint-Jean, la Commission des partenaires du marché du travail Philippe Gagnon, la Commission de la construction du Québec Dominique Beaussier, le Ministère de l'éducation, du Loisir et du Sport 7

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