August 19, 2013
Industry Training Authority replaces Kevin Evans
The chief executive officer of the Industry Training Authority in BC is being replaced by the board of directors with new leadership, while the organization’s mandate is being reviewed by the provincial government.
“(The) ITA (Industry Training Authority) needs to evolve to meet the challenges and opportunities with the BC Jobs Plan and the Skills and Training Plan,” said ITA interim CEO Gary Herman. “To move the organization forward and to address the training and apprenticeship opportunities in BC, a different leadership skill set is required. Therefore, Kevin Evans is no longer employed by the Industry Training Authority.”
Kevin Evans, who has been the CEO of the ITA for six years, sent out an e-mail on Aug. 19 to inform people in the industry that the board has decided there is a need for new leadership with a new skill set.
“We are thankful for the many contributions Kevin made during his six year tenure at ITA and his role in positioning the organization to take the next steps forward,” said Herman. “There will be a recruitment process for a new CEO in the coming months. We don’t anticipate this starting until the Government Mandate review is completed in late fall/winter.”
In a letter to the new minister of jobs, tourism and skills training Shirley Bond dated June 10, Premier Christy Clark said she expected a review of the role and function of the ITA to be completed over the next few years.
In particular, Bond was directed to work with industry, training organizations and labour to identify areas of apprenticeship reform to improve results and reduce barriers to participation by employers and apprentices.
Bond was also instructed to work with the Ministry of Education to identify best practices and pilot new programs to ensure high school students are able to obtain applied trades skills while in high school.
As the CEO of the ITA, Evans was expected to increase the number of apprentices that complete trades training programs and implement flexible training initiatives that reduce the amount of time apprentices must spend away from the workplace.
However, the ITA reported that apprenticeship completion rates in B.C. have fell to 37 per cent in 2011/12 from 43 per cent in 2009/2010.
The BC government expected the ITA to increase completion rates and take these specific actions, while funding to the organization remained stagnant or declined.
For example, the ITA’s annual service plan report 2012/13 said core funding from the provincial government was set at $94.44 million between 2010 and 2013, and is forecast to stay at this level until 2016. The provincial government provided funding of $96.9 and 100.5 million in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
The ITA plans to spend $15 million in 2013-14 on Labour Supply Initiatives compared to $18 million in 2012-13. This initiative, which includes youth programs, will be cut by 300 per cent to $5 million in both 2014-15 and 2015-16.
According to the ITA’s annual service plan report 2012/13, these reductions in labour supply initiatives in 2014/15 and 2015/16 reflect the expiry of the current Canada-BC Labour Market Agreement in March 2014.
The executive director of the British Columbia Yukon Territory Building Construction Trade Council agrees that the ITA must review its mandate to improve performance.
“We have known for too many years that the ITA has not been able to provide the kind of apprenticeship training that is required for B.C.,” said Tom Sigurdson. “If it is necessary for a change at the leadership level, it is also necessary for a policy change. I think it is appropriate at this time that the government looks at the mandate of the ITA and its governance model.”
Construction unions argue the BC Liberal’s policy for the apprenticeship system is a failure, because it resulted in a reduction in the number of apprentices completing their training at a time when the demand for labour was increasing.
The B.C. Liberals eliminated requirements for apprenticeship ratios and compulsory certification on construction jobsites in 2002.
Next, the Liberals enacted legislation in 2003 that dissolved the Industry Training and Apprenticeship Commission. The ITA was established in 2004.
The new approach to apprenticeship training began by closing regional offices, eliminating trades counselors, cutting funding to programs and removing labour representatives from the ITA board.
According to Stats Canada, the number of apprenticeship completions declined to 2,424 in 2005 from 2859 in 2000, and made a significant drop to 2,151 in 2006.
The number of apprenticeship completions didn’t recover to 2000 levels until 2007, when it hit 2,973.
Completions continued to increase over the next few years to 4,662 in 2010, which is the last year that Stats Canada reported these figures.
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