Designating Trades

Designated Trades in Alberta

Under the Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Education Act (STAEA), the Minister of Skilled Trades and Professions (STP) may designate trades and prescribe restricted activities and the people authorized to perform those activities within a designated trade. Once a trade is designated, it establishes industry standards for an occupation’s skills and abilities, creating a standardized certification, which represents proof of competence within the trade. Designated Trades offer the opportunity to restrict activities within the trade to people are considered qualified.

The Alberta Board of Skilled Trades (Board) is responsible for providing recommendations to the Minister respecting new trade designations. In addition to providing recommendations on new trade designations, the Board engages with industry to develop and maintain the standards that make up the scope of a trade and the trade's certification standards.

Designation Process

To ensure Alberta’s skilled trades meet the needs of industry, the process for designating new trades is initiated and driven by industry. When an opportunity arises to designate a new trade, government will collaborate with relevant stakeholders, including industry or professional organizations, the Board, and other government ministries to:

  • determine suitability as a designated trade;
  • assess industry and stakeholder support; and
  • assess viability.

Development and maintenance of designated trades requires significant government and industry resources. For this reason, a four-stage process is used to assess inquiries and ensure the occupation meets the criteria of a designated trade:


Stage 1 - Consultation

  • Skilled Trades and Professions (STP) addresses inquiries from industry.
  • STP & industry explore alignment between needs of industry and STAEA's Industry Pathways to seek a mutual solution.
  • Industry may submit a proposal to move forward to Stage 2.

When a new inquiry is received, department staff will consult with the inquiring industry to explore alignment between the needs of the occupation and STAEA’s Five Pathways for Industry to seek a mutual solution. If appropriate, the industry may submit a proposal.

 Stage 1 Criteria

In addition to a preliminary assessment of the criteria for Stage 2, the Administrator will consider:

  1. Whether the inquiring person(s) are able to speak on behalf of the industry;
  2. Whether the proposed trade aligns with government policies, priorities, and directions;
  3. Whether a trade designation offered through STAEA is suitable for the trade;
  4. Whether the trade is designated or otherwise regulated elsewhere in Canada;
  5. Whether the department has available funding and staff capacity to support administration of a new trade; and
  6. Any other information they deem necessary for the preliminary assessment.

Stage 2 - Application

  • Comprehensive application package provided to industry.
  • STP & Board conducts assessment of the completed application.
  • STP & Board provides recommendation to the Minister based on criteria below.
  • Minister decides if application moves forward to Stage 3.

In Stage 2, industry is provided with a comprehensive application package to complete. The application specifies the information needed for the Minister to make an informed decision on whether the proposed trade will go to the development stage.

Stage 2 Criteria

Designation Suitability

  1. The organization applying for designation of a trade must provide evidence, to the Minister’s satisfaction, that the activities involved in the proposed trade and the individuals who will perform them are distinct enough from other trades already designated under the Act.
  2. The trade must be sufficiently distinct from other occupations currently regulated under other provincial legislation and is not currently regulated or eligible to be regulated under the Health Professions Act.
  3. The organization applying for trade designation must provide evidence that the proposed trade will provide opportunity for interprovincial consistency and improved interprovincial mobility.
  4. The organization must identify the value or benefits of a designated trade for the industry and the individuals participating in the trade.
  5. The proposed program must align with government policies, priorities, and directions.

Industry and Stakeholder Support

  1. The applicant must demonstrate that they have provided equal opportunity to participate in a consultation regarding this application to a representative sample of practitioners, employers, and other relevant stakeholders in the industry across all regions of Alberta. Evidence of the sample’s representativeness and the consultation’s methodology must be provided with the completed application package.
  2. The applicant’s consultation with the industry must provide evidence of support for trade designation from at least 80 per cent of consulted practitioners, employers, and other relevant stakeholders in the proposed trade.
  3. The applicant’s consultation with the industry must identify a sufficient number of persons who are willing to volunteer and serve in an industry advisory role to support development and maintenance of a designated trade.
  4. Any stakeholder opposition to trade designation must be identified and considered.

Designation Viability

  1. There must be a yearly average of 1,500 practitioners working in the scope of the proposed trade in Alberta in the most recent five years.
  2. Labour market demand for individuals certified in the proposed trade must be expected to remain stable or grow for the next five years.
    • Evidence of expected labour market stability must be available through a reliable source as set by STP.
  3. The industry must have consistency across a majority of employers in the proposed designated trade regarding the skills and knowledge a qualified individual would need in order to successfully work in the field.
    • This may include the type and amount of work experience, education, or training that employers look for when hiring.
  4. The organization must provide evidence of demand that indicates at least 20 individuals that would seek journeyperson certification in the proposed designated trade each year, for the next three years.
  5. Any criteria for certification must not require membership in a specific organization or group.

Department staff, through the Administrator, will assess the comprehensive application for accuracy and completeness and provide a recommendation to the Minister. The Board will also provide a recommendation to the Minister. The Minister will provide a decision on whether the application proceeds to Stage 3 - Development. This Minister decision represents an approval in principle to allow development of the trade to begin, and is not a final decision for the occupation’s trade designation application.

Stage 3 - Development

  • Through the Board, STP engages with industry to develop the scope of the profession, and the trade certification standards.

Once an application from has been approved in principle by the Minister, development of the trade can begin. Through the Board, department staff will collaborate with industry and any relevant stakeholders to develop all applicable standards and products. Once complete, the department will make updates to IT systems and information resources.

Stage 4 - Implementation

  • In consideration of the factors outlined in section 4 of the STAEA General Regulation, the Minister will decide whether to designate the trade.

The Administrator and the Board will make their respective recommendations to the Minister on whether the trade should be designated under STAEA, and if applicable, a recommendation for any restricted activities and the prescribed classes of individuals who may perform them as set out in section 14(1)(c)(i) of STAEA.

If the Minister’s decision is to reject the application for designation, that decision is final. An application from industry may be re-initiated no sooner than two years after the date of rejection.

A trade is only designated when the Designated Trades and Restricted Activities Regulation is amended by the Minister to include the new designated trade.

Maintaining Designation as a Trade

Sufficient support from industry representatives must be provided for development and maintenance of the designated trade. If the designated trade requires significant updates and industry is unable to provide sufficient support to the Board in making the updates, the designated trade may be considered outdated and no longer viable.

In addition, designated trades must meet minimum thresholds for the following viability measures:




# Journeyperson Certificates issued

Average over most recent five years

≥ 20

% of workforce with journeyperson certification

Average over most recent five years

≥ 20%

Annual reviews of these measures will be conducted by the Administrator and reported to the Minister and the Board.

Rescinding Trade Designations

If the designation criteria or the requirements for maintaining designation as a trade are not met, the Administrator will communicate that to the Board and provide the Board time to take action with the specific industry sector on meeting designation requirements. This will allow the industry to take action on meeting requirements, if desired.

In cases when viability or other considerations or criteria continue not to be met for five consecutive years, the Administrator and Board will initiate the process for rescinding the designation of the trade by each providing a recommendation for rescission to the Minister.