B.C. is set to see an increase in the number of trades apprentices over the coming years thanks to more than $20 million in funding announced by the federal government in View Royal.
The funding will help hire at least 2,100 first-year apprentices in eligible Red Seal trades over the next two years, with at least 500 of those from equity-deserving groups such as women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous and racialized people, said Minister of Seniors Kamal Khera (on behalf of the employment minister), speaking at the under-construction Craigflower Community and Performing Arts Centre.
“The skilled trades offer many exciting and rewarding career opportunities, and they are in high demand,” said Khera. “Today’s announcement will also support small and medium-sized enterprises that are providing these key job opportunities to first-year apprentices.”
The funding will be administered through the British Columbia Construction Association and its Construction Industry Apprenticeship Program. BCCA president Chris Atchison said the funding will be used both to directly pay the apprentice salaries and attract new apprentices to the industry.
“There are going to be incentives for employers who are able to find and hire individuals, but it is also some of the dollars that are going toward the campaign that is going to be promoting those occupations,” said Atchison. “For the industry itself, it is going to be the first time in a long time that the employers themselves are going to be able to access incentives like this to actually hire new apprentices. The challenge will be to actually find those new apprentices.”
Atchison said given the challenges the pandemic has brought to the construction industry, small and medium-sized businesses will especially benefit from the new funding. Using the worksite hosting the announcement as an example, he said under the apprenticeship program, the 17 contractor companies working on the site would have been able to access up to $680,000 for their combined cash flow, and introduce 68 newly registered apprentices to the province’s workforce.
“That adds up to substantial financial contributions to construction operations, along with valuable skills to our province’s workforce.”