ILO adopts new apprenticeship standard

Meant to support opportunities for people to 'skill, reskill and upskill continuously'

ILO adopts new apprenticeship standard

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has adopted a new labour standard surrounding apprenticeships.

The new standard aims to support “opportunities for people of all ages to skill, reskill and upskill continuously” in rapidly changing labour markets. It provides a clear definition of apprenticeships, specifies aspirational standards for quality apprenticeships, including rights and protection for apprentices.

The new recommendation was adopted by delegates who attended the 111th International Labour Conference (ILC) – held June 5 to 16, 2023 – in Geneva, Switzerland.

Earlier this year, Seamus O’Regan Jr., Canada’s minister of labour, ratified International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 190, the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (C190) in Geneva on Jan. 30.

Framework for quality apprenticeships

The recommendation concerning quality apprenticeships calls for ILO members to establish a regulatory framework for quality apprenticeships, and qualification frameworks or systems to facilitate the recognition of competencies acquired through apprenticeships.

It also calls on members to establish or designate one or more public authorities responsible for

regulating apprenticeships, in which representative employers’ and workers’ organizations

should be represented.

These authorities should have clearly defined responsibilities, are adequately funded and work in close cooperation with other authorities or institutions responsible for regulating or delivering education and training, labour inspection, social protection, occupational safety and health, and public and private employment services.

"In this unique tri-partite system, we have developed a strategy, program, and approach to continually enhance Apprenticeships, ensuring that they provide workers with the necessary skills to attain full, productive and freely chosen employment,” says Ryan Larsen, senior director for International Labor Relations Walmart, and vice-chair of the USCIB Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Committee (CRLA). 

Larsen represented the United States Council for International Business USCIB – the U.S. national committee of the International Organization of Employers (IOE) – in the conference.

“Additionally, we have emphasized the importance of lifelong learning opportunities; promoting continuous skilling, reskilling and upskilling, which in turn contributes to the promotion of decent work and full employment."

Recently, to support growth in demand for skilled tradespeople, the government of Saskatchewan announced it is investing $1.5 million to expand the number of apprenticeship training seats available by 250 to 4,450.

Protection of apprentices

The recommendation also calls for the protection of apprentices by reminding ILO members to respect, promote and realize the fundamental principles and rights at work in relation to apprenticeships.

Members should take measures to ensure that apprentices:

(a) receive adequate remuneration or other financial compensation, which may be increased at different stages of the apprenticeship to reflect the progressive acquisition of occupational competencies;

(b) are not required to work hours that exceed limits specified by national legislation and

collective agreements;

(c) are entitled to holidays with adequate remuneration or other financial compensation;(d) are entitled to be absent due to illness or accident, with adequate remuneration or other financial compensation;

(e) have access to paid maternity or paternity leave and parental leave;

(f) have access to social security and maternity protection;

(g) are afforded freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;

(h) are afforded protection and receive training in respect of occupational safety and health and in respect of discrimination and violence and harassment;

(i) are entitled to compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses;

(j) have access to an effective complaints and dispute resolution mechanism;

(k) are entitled to protection of personal data.

Speaking at the ILC closing ceremony , Gilbert F. Houngbo, ILO director-general, says to delegates: “You should be proud of what you have accomplished. Your commitment to the mandate of the ILO, your skilled negotiations, your careful diplomacy, resulted in the adoption of several significant documents at this Conference.”

Sixteen heads of state and government – as well as representatives of other UN and multilateral bodies and workers and employers organizations – attended a high-level World of Work Summit, held between June 14 and 15 under the theme of “Social Justice for All”. Participants discussed a range of social justice issues including the proposal for a Global Coalition for Social Justice.

“As we continue the ILO’s long journey to fulfill its mandate, we heard resounding and unequivocal support for a Global Coalition for Social Justice. heads of state, ministers of labour and leaders of employers’ and workers’ organizations recognized the Global Coalition as an initiative that is timely and essential. We must now build on this momentum,” says Houngbo.

In May, British Columbia said it will open 3,000 more technology-related spaces within the public post-secondary education system, thanks to a three-year investment of $74.7 million.

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