St. John’s — Advanced Education and Skills Minister Kevin O’Brien was fielding questions about apprenticeships in the skilled trades in the House of Assembly Monday, defending a failed mentorship program.
Kevin O'Brien. — Telegram file photo
Liberal MHA Lisa Dempster was asking about the pilot program, which never really got off the ground, after The Telegram reported about it over the weekend.
“Journeyperson Mentorship Program was heralded by this government as an excellent example of embracing innovative solutions that are maximizing our potential, having budgeted $2 million to train 120 to 200 apprentices per year, but only $600,000 was spent and only five people were trained,” Dempster said during question period Monday.
“I ask the minister: How could you have been so far off the mark?”
O’Brien said the program ran into geographic challenges — a journeyperson in Ramea was available, but the apprentices were in Corner Brook, and nobody would move.
“These are the kind of things that we had challenges with,” O’Brien said. “So I have asked my staff to re-evaluate the program, and certainly we will address any issue that comes forward on a go-forward basis.”
Dempster said the government should be forcing companies like Corner Brook Pulp and Paper to hire more apprentices.