Digital gap to overtake literacy gap
Technology is changing the nature of the skilled trades.
April 8, 2013
A report (requires sign in) released March 27, 2013, by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum – Forum canadien sur l’apprentissage (CAF-FCA) advises that technology is having a profound impact on the nature of the skilled trades, apprenticeship training and journeyperson skills requirements. Based on a series of interviews with employers and trainers, the report suggests that computer literacy is increasingly a prerequisite of employment. The ‘digital gap’ will become as important as the ‘literacy gap’ over the next decade. “It is clear that digital skills will have a big impact on worker and workplace productivity,” said Sarah Watts-Rynard, CAF executive director. “The introduction of increasingly high-tech equipment and machinery requires skilled tradespeople to have competencies well beyond hands-on, mechanical skills. We are also seeing the learning environment itself changing, requiring apprentices to interact with technology as part of their training process.” The report notes the emergence of online learning, 3-D technology and simulation as an integrated part of apprenticeship technical training. Journeypersons also rely on diagnostic equipment, tablets and mobile devices on worksites. “We have heard for decades that technology can help workers be safer, faster and more accurate,” said Watts-Rynard. “But it’s important to remember that technology requires another facet to the learning process and it doesn’t always come automatically, even to younger workers. Technical upgrades require skills upgrades.” The Impact of Technology on Apprenticeship shares insights into the challenges identified by apprenticeship stakeholders, including a lack of policy framework and the increasing reliance on online learning programs developed in the U.S., which often overlook Canadian standards such as Red Seal. A series of recommendations also emerged in the study.