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NETCO Secures Nearly $5 Million in Funding for Advanced Training of Canadian Electrical Apprentices from the Government of Canada 

March 19, 2024

The National Electrical Trade Council (NETCO) is thrilled to unveil a groundbreaking Virtual Reality Training Program set to revolutionize apprenticeship training across Canada. With an investment totaling nearly $4.5 million dollars over the next 4.5 years, the NETCO Virtual is the New Reality Training program will showcase cutting-edge technology and innovation, elevating the learning experience for apprentices. This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Canadian Apprenticeship Strategy- Union Training and Innovation Program: Innovation in Apprenticeship Stream. 

“To reduce our carbon footprint, we need a steady supply of skilled tradespeople with the right technical and green skills. Through this $4.5 million investment, thousands of Canadians are being supported through the opportunity to become part of the next generation of tradespeople that will sustain our growth as a carbon-neutral economy,” said Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages

In collaboration with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), NETCO aims to enhance outcomes for approximately 4000 apprentices in the electrical Red Seal trades by incorporating the latest technology and industry best practices.

This ambitious initiative will introduce a Virtual Electrical Training (VET) program, utilizing virtual reality (VR) technology developed by IDEAL Industries. The program encompasses various modules, with ongoing development, and seamlessly integrates with the NETCO Learning Management System (LMS), facilitating outcome tracking, scoring, and addressing training issues for apprentices.

Affiliated IBEW training centers in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia will be equipped with the state-of-the-art VR training platform. The federally funded program will also provide advanced training for late-term electrical apprentices through the Electrical Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP), delivered via NETCO in Canada. Additionally, NETCO will collaborate with Sudbury-based NORCAT Industries and subject matter experts to initiate the development of a VR-based electrical instrumentation program.

Drawing inspiration from successful provincially funded programs in Ontario, NETCO Executive Director Chris Swick expressed excitement about expanding this comprehensive training program nationwide. “We are delighted to offer a larger-scale training initiative across Canada at our affiliated training centers, leveraging the expertise of trusted partners,” stated Swick.

Swick highlighted the numerous benefits of virtual reality training, emphasizing cost savings on consumables and the paramount safety factor associated with gaining experience and confidence in a virtual environment.

NETCO is committed to facilitating the nationwide rollout of these programs, anticipating enhanced apprenticeship outcomes, standardized training across IBEW centers in Canada, and increased capacity at these training facilities.

For complete details about NETCO and its innovative training tools and technologies, please visit www.netco.org.

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