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SAIT sets course for Edmonton

Program will alleviate shortage of skilled glaziers

September 17, 2008  By Chris Skalkos

3A collaborative effort by the Glass Trades Association (GTA) and industry stakeholders in northern Alberta has successfully established an apprenticeship glazing school in Edmonton to alleviate the shortage of skilled glaziers in the province.

A collaborative effort by the Glass Trades Association (GTA) and industry stakeholders in northern Alberta has successfully established an apprenticeship glazing school in Edmonton to alleviate the shortage of skilled glaziers in the province.

Partners in training and key players in getting the SAIT glazier apprenticeship program:  From left, Ed Dalzell, instructor Glazier Program The School of Construction SAIT; Lynn Allan, Beacon Glass Products;  Wayne Brandt , Kawneer Company Canada; Ross Wady, All Glass Parts & president of the GTA;  Wendy Clarahan, Visionwall; Michael Czernick, AGC; Russell Bridgeman, PCL Construction Management.

The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) has opened a satellite campus in the city offering its highly recognized glazier apprenticeship pro-gram at its main campus in Calgary.

“This is strictly an extension of the SAIT program, but it’s further down the hall from any other classroom,” jokes Ed Dalzell, SAIT instructor who volunteered many hours to get the program ready. He says the six week per year, four-year course, covers the basics of glass pattern cutting, fabrication and installation with an emphasis on safety.
Classes for the first group of first-year students began on May 12 with 270 glazier apprentices registered Alberta wide. Classes for a second group of first year students will begin on Sept.  8 and it already has half of the required registrants needed. The goal for next year is to add two additional classes.


AIT Apprenticeship School, Edmonton, Alta., first-year apprenticeship class: Back row from left, Kristopher Corbett, Lance Ledger, Brent Spriensma, Blake Simon, Clint Sturm, Jonathan Keating, John Nyikabe, Dan Gratton, Clint Gordon. Front row from left, Cody Proskow, Ross Wady, Ed Dalzell, Melanie Milne, Nick Countryman, Jason Hennessey, John Da Costa.

Ross Wady, president of the GTA says the program in Edmonton will provide an opportunity for glass shop owners in northern Alberta who cannot afford to lose employees by sending them to Calgary for training. “Especially in the last few years,” he says pointing to the high level of construction activity taking place in the province. “It has been more difficult for companies to send employees to Calgary. Losing them for six weeks was a bit of a stretch. We felt there was enough interest to make a program work up here,” says Wady. He adds that students who complete the program receive their Journeyman’s Certificate making them eligible to write their Interprovincial Ticket Red Seal which entitles them to practise the trade anywhere in Canada.

Apprenticeship glaziers working in the shop area of SAIT’s new satellite campus in Edmonton

The GTA initiated the move to get a SAIT program in Edmonton after discussing the issue for years at association meetings, says Lynn Allan who oversees the GTA’s education committee. “I raised my hand and offered to get the ball rolling,” says Allan.

 “Last fall we mailed out a questionnaire to glass shops simply asking, would you support a program? Yes or No? And how many apprentices would you send?

We sent 275 questionnaires and the response was overwhelming. By the second week we had several glass shops respond giving us potentially 85-90 students interested in the program,” he says. “So we brought these figures to a GTA meeting and then approached Dave Edwards of SAIT and Al Sieben of Alberta Apprenticeship who pointed us in the right direction. 

“We had the interest and the numbers so we set out to get the appropriate applications to show Alberta Appren-ticeship, (a branch of the provincial government) we are serious about getting a class here,” he says, adding that association members were slightly surprised by how quickly it was approved.

“We posted the first class six weeks from the time we started to push for the apprentices. We felt that it was fast-tracked. We thought we would get it in 2009 so we had to scramble to get a list of materials and equipment we would need,” he says.  “We filled the first class with 16 people with another nine out of 16 already registered for September.”  The second-year class is scheduled for May 2009.

Wady says the program was developed in conjunction with local area user committees comprised of various stakeholders with several companies contributing materials and equipment.

“We also received a lot of support from the Glass Dealers Association of Saskatchewan (GDAS) and the Glass and Architectural Metals Association (GAMA) based in Calgary. The support we received from the people at SAIT was also very important, they really stepped up to the plate,” he says.

However, Allan says that to sustain the program the registration quotas need to be met so the GTA will be promoting the SAIT program at high school job fairs and by making presentations to construction companies and other industry associations. 

“We are hoping to draw students from Saskatchewan, North West Territories and Yukon,” says Allan.
A major contributor to the program, PCL Construction Management Inc, in Edmonton, built the glass cutting tables for the SAIT facility based on designs by instructor Ed Dalzell.

Russell Bridgeman from PCL says the SAIT apprenticeship program will help the glass industry which is already being squeezed by a shortage of skilled glaziers.

“Trades people in Alberta are in short supply and this is especially true for glass trades people. In construction today we see more glass on buildings and this is creating a need for more glaziers, but it is also creating a greater need to keep up with training which is an important part of any trade,” says Bridgeman. 

He says while the amount of glass being used in our industry has increased exponentially, the number of people getting into this trade is not keeping pace. “Our goal is to get more people in this trade and improve their skills,” he adds. “The real benefit of a program like this is that we are going to have more skilled glaziers in the industry in just a few years down the road.”

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