Boat yards in the province will soon be better equipped to handle increasing demand for Nova Scotian vessels. The province has established boat building as a designated trade, which will provide a clear learning path for aspiring boat builders and training standards for the industry. “Nova Scotia’s boat builders are known throughout the world for building safe, seaworthy boats, and we want to attract more people to this thriving industry,” said Education Minister Jamie Muir. “As demand for Nova Scotia-built vessels increases, the boat-building industry needs more workers to fill orders. We’re responding with a customized apprenticeship program and by introducing provincewide standards for boat-building professionals.” Since 1998, sales in the Nova Scotia boat-building industry have increased from $50 million to $85 million. During this time, employment in the industry grew from 550 to 800 full-time, year-round positions, with an additional 250 positions available in support industries. In April, the Department of Education and the Nova Scotia Boatbuilders Association announced plans to begin using apprenticeship training materials from the New Zealand Boating Industry Training Organization. The materials are currently being customized for Nova Scotia boat yards. To date, there are 24 industry mentors signed on to implement the industry training plan in 12 boat yards across the province. “There is growing demand in the U.S. for fine pleasure boats based on proven Nova Scotia hull designs,” said Tim Edwards, executive director, Nova Scotia Boatbuilders Association. “This new market, along with the continued demand for safe, practical working boats for the fishery, means the need for skilled craftspeople in Nova Scotia’s boat-building industry is growing every day. Trade designation means we can introduce a specific training path for apprentices and provides us with a regulatory framework to ensure consistency in our industry.” After 15 years as a residential carpenter in Yarmouth, Fraser Challoner was one of 32 people to register for the Nova Scotia apprenticeship boat-building pilot program last September. Mr. Challoner works at Wedgeport Boats. “The pilot program was launched just as I was looking for new career options. It meant I didn’t have to put my life on hold to learn the trade,” said Mr. Challoner. “It was a big change to go from building houses to building lobster boats, because nothing is square and nothing is level. Building boats focuses more on angles and curves, and we work on the electrical and fibreglass components, which is new and interesting for me.” For a trade to become designated, industry must apply to the Provincial Apprenticeship Board, which reviews the request and invites public consultation before making a recommendation to government. Designated trades are regulated by the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act and general regulations. Under this act, government works with industry to provide formal training and issue a certificate of qualification to apprentices who complete a training program. The Department of Education’s role in apprenticeship training and trade designation is part of the government’s Skills Nova Scotia initiative. That initiative is dedicated to building Nova Scotia’s skilled workforce by providing education and training opportunities. More information about Skills Nova Scotia and copies of the recent annual report and action plan are available on the website at http://skillsnovascotia.ednet.ns.ca .