History of the Learn to Learn Project

The UA Piping Industry College of BC school recognized an existing gap in our ability to upgrade the skills of people entering the workforce at the pre-apprenticeship level. Essential skills are clearly needed within the piping industry, as we have found numeracy, working with others, document use and writing skills of particular importance. Apprentices must attain a level of competency required for ongoing success in the piping trades. They must learn to retain knowledge and build on that foundation of new skills for continued growth over a four-year apprenticeship. Therefore, there is a need for students to develop ways of learning these essential skills so that they can upgrade their levels of proficiency and become successful in their future aspirations in the trades sector.

What We’ve Done So Far

We found that individuals entering the workforce, or already within the workforce, could benefit from acquiring essential skills. Pre-apprentices would be more likely to achieve entry into chosen programs, apprentices would be more likely to succeed at obtaining their Red Seal, and managers and supervisors would more likely advance and be more productive within the industry.

We formed a steering committee comprised of stakeholders from the major stakeholders, industry, training providers and journeypersons at entry, management and supervisory levels to ensure as much industry representation as possible. This included representatives from the industry, the UAPICBC, UA, the Mechanical Contractors’ Association, the University of the Fraser Valley, and Rogers Consulting.

We reviewed the best practices of previous successful literacy and essential skills models and found there was a focus on three to four primary essential skills (reading, writing, math and document use), while the other life skills are largely neglected. Most programs focus on Essential Skills training as a separate component or module, possibly limiting their transferability. Teaching styles and practice are not well addressed, and quantitative research on the essential skills effectiveness are lacking.

From this study, the following recommendations were made:

  • essential skills should be integrated throughout the curriculum
  • the program should go beyond reading, document use, and numeracy training
  • instructor training is a key component of effective programming, and
  • program evaluation must be considered carefully.

Objectives Achieved

Working with the educational institutions to adapt the best practices selected to the trade-specific needs of the piping industry, we created an applied, focused literacy and essential skills program to enhance the success of our workforce, including apprentices, journeypersons and supervisors.

A thorough review of pre-assessment tools and systems that are compatible with the piping trades was conducted and those tools now implemented.

A pilot program was developed and implemented that will enhance the ability of those entering the piping industry to succeed by upgrading their literacy levels and essential skills.

We now provide ongoing support for apprentices, journeypersons, and supervisors through courses, mentoring, and online resources.

Next Steps

Quantitative and qualitative measurements will be conducted on the pilot projects currently underway. These will provide pre- and post-measurements to track changes in learning as a result of the skills implementation. The results will provide us with the opportunity to see how the programs are doing and where changes may be necessary to further promote the Learn to Learn skills.


We hope to enhance Red Seal completions in the piping industry for apprentices and in particular for people who are marginalized and/or dealing with transitional difficulties.


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