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B.C. to require apprentices on public projects

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by JOC Digital Media

Starting in July, B.C. contractors on public jobs will have to sponsor apprentices. The B.C. government announced that its new Apprentices on Public Projects policy is going to connect more young people to the skills and training they need to be first in line for careers in construction.

The new policy will leverage government’s multi-billion dollar annual investment in infrastructure by requiring contractors working on major public construction projects like schools, roads, bridges and hospitals with a $15-million-plus government investment to sponsor apprentices through the entire project cycle and report on their on-project use prior to receiving their final payment. The policy applies to projects tendered after July 1, 2015.

According to the province, the policy aims to ensure British Columbians are trained to fill the million job openings expected between now and 2022 – with 44 per cent in the skilled trades and technical occupations. It will also help meet the labour workforce requirements of private sector projects – a key goal given last week’s agreement between the Province and Pacific NorthWest LNG setting the stage for a potential $36-billion investment.

The policy is part of B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint launched one year ago to re-engineer education and training so B.C. is connecting people with the skills required for in demand jobs.

Much of the driving force to increase opportunities for apprenticeship sponsorship comes from recommendations made in two reports: the McDonald ITA Report and the Premier’s Liquefied Natural Gas Working Group, which aspires to a goal of having 25 per cent of overall workforce on LNG-related construction projects to be apprenticeable trades. Government also held extensive consultations with stakeholders from the construction industry.

Beyond the requirement for projects over $15 million, the government also encourages companies working on smaller projects to put apprentices to work and to share reports on apprentices being employed.

“Employer sponsors are key to guaranteeing a skilled workforce needed to sustain and grow our economy,” said Gary Herman, CEO, Industry Training Authority (ITA). “This policy ensures apprentices have opportunities to gain experience that aligns with labour market demands so they have the right skills in the right place at the right time for the future.”

Tom Sigurdson, executive director, BC Building Trades said the government initiative is extremely important to building the skilled trades in our province.

“Apprentices can only complete their apprenticeship when they have the opportunity to take classroom theory on to the job site,” Sigurdson said.

“Building the B.C. economy cannot be done without building the skills and talents of the young men and women who build B.C.”

Officials from Houle Electric, PCL Constructors Westcoast and CLAC also expressed support for the changes.

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