Hundreds of tradespeople and employers have shared their insights about how the Province can implement skilled trades certification to support higher-paying, more stable employment.
This feedback has been compiled into the What We Heard reports, which are available online.
“Based on the high response rate and thoughtful feedback, it is clear people are invested in the health of our trades training system,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “We heard from trades workers, businesses and industries on what they think will make the transition to skilled trades certification successful and to better support them.”
The feedback reflected in the What We Heard reports will inform the supports and services related to implementing skilled trades certification for the 10 initial mechanical, electrical and automotive trades in British Columbia.
Key themes that emerged through the consultations include improving supports and services available, more flexible learning options, increasing and celebrating diversity in the workforce, promoting trades careers to youth early, and raising awareness of existing supports and services available.
Tradespeople and employers were asked to provide input about key aspects of implementing skilled trades certification, including how to help current workers become certified or enter an apprenticeship training program. It also identified supports for employers during economic recovery. Approximately 85,000 additional job openings are expected in the trades in B.C. by 2031.
“We heard about the benefits of skilled trade certification directly from apprentices, tradespeople, and those interested in joining the trades,” said Andrew Mercier, Parliamentary Secretary for Skills Training. “These are the people who build and maintain the infrastructure and services British Columbians rely on. Ensuring they are trained to the highest standard is good for everyone and implementing the right supports for workers and employers will help ensure no one is left behind.”
The consultation ran from June to September 2021 and included an online survey (868 respondents), eight roundtables (113 individual participants), more than 30 stakeholder meetings with the parliamentary secretary for skills training, and focused discussions with the Industry Training Authority (ITA) and Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training staff. There were also seven Indigenous dialogue sessions (54 individual participants) to understand the potential impacts on Indigenous Peoples in B.C.
The 868 provincial survey participants represented workers (47%), businesses (29%) and industry organizations (12%). The demographics included representation of Indigenous Peoples, youth, 2SLGBTQ+, people of colour, new Canadians and other groups crucial to growing the trades workforce. Participants from urban and rural settings were included.
The conversations were focused on identifying opportunities to develop and enhance supports, services or programs. The ITA hosted a survey about its role in skilled trades certification (741 respondents), held nine focus groups (70 participants) and two virtual information sessions (66 participants).
“We are thrilled we had the opportunity to connect with so many British Columbians involved in the skilled trades, including apprentices, employer sponsors, unions, training providers and other industry partners, who provided us with critical input that will help us design and implement a progressive skilled trades certification system,” said Shelley Gray, CEO, ITA. “We heard clearly that as we implement skilled trades certification, we need to ensure there is a strong focus on equity and inclusion, Indigenous Peoples and ensuring the right supports are in place.”
The skilled trades certification public engagement reports are available online: engage.gov.bc.ca/govtogetherbc/impact/bc-skilled-trades-certification-results
The ministry will continue to engage with Indigenous and industry partners throughout implementation of skilled trades certification to ensure workers and businesses are supported. Legislation to update the Industry Training Authority Act will be introduced to the legislative assembly during the spring session. Pending approval, regulations would come into effect in mid-2022. Ten initial trades in electrical, mechanical and automotive will be implemented in two phases between 2022 and 2024.
Learn more about skilled trades certification: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/skilledtrades
A backgrounder follows.