Why BC Apprenticeship Training Is More Valuable Than Ever

Why BC Apprenticeship Training Is More Valuable Than EverBritish Columbia is getting ready for a new era of prosperity that will be driven, to a large extent, by the trades. And the province wants you to be a part of it. In fact, throughout BC, apprenticeship opportunities are gaining extra importance and greater popularity thanks to a number of recent developments. One of the biggest is the provincial government's Apprentices on Public Projects policy.

In BC, trades training involves both classroom learning and on-the-job work experience with an employer who sponsors your apprenticeship. That's why, for people going into construction-related trades, the province is now aiming to make it a lot easier to find such an employer.

After July 1, 2015, many contractors working on new, large-scale, and publicly funded construction projects (i.e., those in which the province invests $15 million or more) will be required to: (1) hire registered apprentices for the duration of the projects and (2) report back to the government about their use. For individual contractors and subcontractors on those projects, this policy kicks in when:*

  • Their primary work involves one of the Red Seal trades
  • Their work on the project is valued at more than $500,000

What the New Policy Means for Apprentices in BC

Smiling man in hardhatFor anyone thinking of going into a construction trade like carpentry, electrical work, or welding, this new initiative is very welcome news. After all, the more employers there are who sponsor apprentices, the greater your chances are of being able to complete your apprenticeship in a timely manner. And that means having the opportunity to start making good money sooner.

Plus, it means that more aspiring tradespeople will get the chance to help fill the anticipated market demand, which is expected to be very high throughout BC in the coming years. For example, look at these projections:

  • Trades or technical training will be needed for over 40 percent of the one million jobs that are expected to become available in BC between 2010 and 2020—including at least 100,000 jobs (or potentially many more) linked to the skilled trades.**
  • By 2018, five new liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in BC could require more than 20,000 skilled tradespeople to fill a wide variety of roles.**

How You Can Take Advantage

BC TradesFirst, understand this: Employers in the trades often want people who are capable of contributing right away, even if it's just in a basic way. So getting some pre-apprenticeship training before approaching them to sponsor you can help a lot. Once you have some foundational skills, it's generally easier to find and take advantage of opportunities such as those being created by BC's new Apprentices on Public Projects policy.

Here are some other useful things to know about how the apprenticeship system works in BC:**

  • As soon as you have an employer sponsor, you can register your apprenticeship through the Industry Training Authority (ITA), which certifies about 100 different trades.
  • About 15 to 20 percent of your apprenticeship will consist of technical and classroom training at a designated school. The other 80 to 85 percent of your training will happen at the job sites of your employer sponsor, and you'll be paid for your work.
  • Most trades involve about four levels of training, which can take from three to five years to complete. Once you've successfully completed your apprenticeship, the ITA will issue you a Certificate of Qualification (also known as your COQ or "ticket" for working in the province of BC). In more than 50 trades, that also qualifies you to earn an Interprovincial Red Seal endorsement, which can certify you to work throughout Canada.

Find a Pre-Apprenticeship Program

Short foundational courses of study exist for many BC trades. Quickly discover the options in your area by typing in your postal code below!

* Province of British Columbia, B.C.'s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: Apprentices on Public Projects in British Columbia, website last visited on June 19, 2015.

** Industry Training Authority, website last visited on June 19, 2015.