BC launching new skilled trades certification system

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British Columbia will be getting a whole new certification system for the skilled trades.

Vancouver, BC — A new skilled trades certification system is coming to British Columbia. The province is launching a “made-in-B.C.” system which is aimed to deliver steady employment and address the demand for skilled workers. The system will roll out in phases. Once a trade has been designated for certification, individuals will have at least one year to either register as apprentices or challenge an exam to certify as a journeyperson.

“Skilled tradespeople are building B.C., especially with the largest infrastructure investment in our province’s history already underway,” said John Horgan, premier of B.C. “This is a made-in-B.C. solution to ensure confidence that a highly-skilled workforce is behind our recovery while providing good, family-supporting jobs that tradespeople can count on. By working together, we’re ensuring B.C. comes out of the pandemic stronger, with a recovery that reaches people across the province.”

Every other province in Canada requires tradespeople to be certified; B.C. removed that requirement back in 2003. “Without a recognized credential, it can be challenging for workers to transition between projects and industries, resulting in lost wages for workers and their families,” reports the province in a press release. “Skilled trades certification will enhance the strong industry and safety training system, which includes partnerships with WorkSafeBC and Technical Safety BC.

Following public consultation, implementation will start with 10 initial trades from electrical, mechanical and automotive disciplines. In the mechanical sector, there will be gasfitter Class A and B, steamfitter/pipefitter, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic, and sheet metal worker. This comes after recommendations from a 16-member stakeholder advisory representing industry associations, labour, post-secondary institutions, Indigenous skill trainers, and the industry training authority.

“Skilled trades certification recognizes the professionalism of tradespeople throughout B.C. and ensures equity-deserving groups and every person who wants a rewarding career in the trades can access the highest level of education and training,” said Anne Kang, minister of advanced education and skills training. “By recognizing the worker’s skill, we will attract more people into careers in the trades in order to help address labour shortages across a variety of trades.”

Once implemented, individuals will be required to either be a certified journeyperson or a registered apprentice to work. The province will also be working with the industry to introduce journeyperson to apprentice ratios for each of the 10 trades.

The public will be able to engage in a process to seek input on key aspects of the certification. This will include helping support for current workers to become certified, identifying and creating implementation supports for employers, and creating ways to completion for all workers.

The engagement will start immediately and includes an online survey, roundtables, community dialogues, and discussions with the industry training authority, parliamentary secretary for skill straining, and staff from the ministry of advanced education and skills training.

“Trades workers keep our lights on, the heating running and our vehicles safe, and deliver the services British Columbians count on,” said Andrew Mercier, parliamentary secretary for skills training. “That’s why we want to hear from current tradespeople, those interested in starting their careers and employers on how we can implement a new skilled trades certification system that meets the needs of people and economy today, with a support system that makes sense for both workers and employers. The conversation is ongoing, and we want to hear from you.”

The government plans to consult with apprentices, trades workers, small to large employers and indigenous peoples.

Around 73,000 job openings are expected in the trades in B.C. through 2029. With 77 per cent of the openings replacing retiring trades workers.

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