A leading Canadian polytechnic institution is offering online learning as part of a blended course.
SAIT's innovative academic platform is leaving its pilot stage and will move into traditional programming, Alberta's minister for enterprise and advanced education Stephen Khan revealed.
This will enable welding, plumbing and electrical apprentices to remain in employment while completing their lesson by taking part in e-learning courses.
It is hoped this will help the province deal with its growing shortage of workers, which is becoming increasingly critical.
The blended learning program was first revealed in September 2011 as one of a number of projects that could address the lack of labourers, with the provincial government predicting it will have to replace approximately 16 per cent of all construction sector workers by 2014.
SAIT has more than 71,000 registrants every year and has its curriculum shaped by around 1,000 industry and business partners, who sit on over 65 advisory panels.
Its new e-learning course enables students to complete the theory part of their course through distance learning online, with this part of the module lasting for 12 weeks.
The virtual learning environment consists of animations, videos and interactive graphics, which complement textual modules to help learners understand the subject matter properly.
Online examinations are also available through the course, which prepare apprentices for their final exams.
Participants would then engage in hands-on education at SAIT's state-of-the-art laboratories.
The polytechnic worked alongside Alberta's Apprenticeship and Industry Training System to roll-out the blended learning project.
Mr Khan said: "The blended learning method is one of the bridges to the future that Albertans want for future generations."
He added: "This mode of learning delivers a unique and innovative approach to developing tradespeople and further enhances Alberta's reputation as Canada's source for the best our country has to offer in terms of developing skilled labour."