B.C. Trade Training Needs Significant Changes

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BC should mandate more trade and eliminate tuition and other fees and costs to develop a highly skilled workforce.

Commentary by a former union representative of 36 years who led the BC Regional Carpenters Council for 8 years.

The May 3 article, “BC Skills Plan Targets Changing Economy,” discussed increased subsidies for short-term upskilling, doubling student loan limits for eligible students, exemption of tuition fees for former young people who are

In other words, fiddle with the edges.

The BC Liberal government fundamentally changed the apprenticeship system in 2003, closing 15 of the 16 apprenticeship chapters, dismissing all apprentice counselors and introducing tuition fees for technical training.

Forty-eight years ago, when I took a carpentry apprenticeship (in-school), there were four levels for each year of the four-year apprenticeship.

The only cost was the books, which were ordered in bulk by the union and offered at cost without markup.

Current costs vary slightly from university to university. For example, Prince George’s Northern Lights College states that tuition, book fees, and other costs for its seven-week annual carpentry program range from $2,500 to $3,000 per level.

Yes, college tuition costs about $6,000 a year, but this is full-time, not a 7-week program.

The change to self-enrollment of apprenticeships and technical training to self-scheduling, and the introduction of tuition fees, certainly reduced the number of completions of technical training and apprenticeships after apprenticeship counselors were laid off and assigned technical training was abolished. connected to

Other proposals to undermine the long-standing apprenticeship model, splitting skills such as carpentry into two semi-skilled occupations, carpenter framer and carpenter formwork, were supported by non-union groups.

Despite failing to attract applicants, applicants should be aware that their qualifications are not nationally recognized under the national Red Seal program, and limit their skills to find employment. have found it harder to reach higher wage levels.

The BC Chamber of Commerce document Improving Apprenticeship Completion Rates 2021 states that the province remains different from other provinces in its approach to apprenticeship training.

“The 2003 BC model was characterized by deregulation of skilled workers and modularized training and certification. And the impact is highlighted.”

The report also made other disturbing findings.

• Overall apprenticeship rates are down compared to 10 years ago and compared to other jurisdictions.

• The lower average completion rate for trade, which is mandatory in other jurisdictions, suggests that apprenticeships are less motivated to complete the trade due to the lack of mandatory trade certification in British Columbia.

• Significant increases in program registrations have been achieved, but this is due to a small number of trades and newly established sub trades that do not give workers the same degree of mobility as nationally recognized red seal trades. It is thought that this is partly due to this. Many of the newly established sub trades introduced to meet industry demand have been discontinued due to low enrollment numbers and poor training outcomes.

• Certifications in Red Seal trade decreased from 84 percent in 2001-2004 to 65 percent in 2011-2014. This decline is greater than the decline experienced elsewhere in Canada and suggests fewer merchants have completed B.C.’s full Red Seal certification since implementation. This trend continued through 2017, when the completion rate increased slightly but lagged behind the rest of Canada.and

• Trade deregulation and modularized training and certification are creating a ‘trade shift’ that concentrates registration and completion in a smaller number of transactions. This ‘trade shift’ is at the opposite end of the salary scale, with highly paid industrial workers at one end and less qualified service sector occupations at the other end.

“The increasing incidence of workplace injuries suggests that the Industrial Training Authority is failing to ensure the quality of safety training programs under the 2003 model,” the report said.

“The injury rate among workers in BC is nearly four times higher than that in Ontario,” the report said.

“The continued ‘downsizing and shallowing’ of trading training schemes carries significant risks,” the report said. “As economic conditions change and the types of skills in demand in BC change, our employees are at risk of not being able to acquire the broad range of skills they need to adapt, both individually and collectively.”

The report isn’t entirely negative, it also mentions recent changes to BC’s system.

“Many occupational training hours have increased to match those of other jurisdictions, and the small apprenticeship programs created under the 2003 system have been discontinued and reverted to the original apprenticeship format. (e.g. split it into two subtransactions).

This statement is not entirely accurate, as a full range of carpentry apprenticeship programs were still available during the time when two semi-skilled programs were offered: the carpenter framer program and the carpenter formwork program.

BC should mandate more trade and eliminate tuition and other fees and costs to develop a highly skilled workforce.

And yes, it may create an environment in which skilled workers are more capable of buying homes they might have built but can’t afford for better wages.

Is there anyone who finds it difficult to find highly skilled craftsmen these days?

>>> To comment on this article, write to the editor: letters@timescolonist.com

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