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Greater Victoria, BC News

ARTICLE

Date ArticleType
5/26/2014 Published Article
Gap in Trades Training

In BC, we find ourselves with a growing shortage of trades people unfortunately, as large numbers leave the workforce. So, what do we do? Train more people, right? The obvious answer is seldom the right answer.

Changing the way we think about training, especially for trades is key. The BC Government’s refocus of trades training is a critical step in the right direction. This comprehensive strategy is designed to realign education and apprenticeship programs to meet BC’s actual need.

The gap we are currently seeing in qualified trades people is exacerbated by our poor completion rates. People that are starting programs are for some reason or another unable to complete their training. While there may be a myriad of reasons, the goal is to at least solve those that have a solution from a policy perspective.

Between 2000-2011, the Canadian average apprenticeship completion rates were only a mere 50 per cent. That is an unacceptable failure rate. If we cannot improve the success rates for apprentices entering the program, we will be even further behind in achieving the right number of trades people for BC.

Part of the solution lays in the apprenticeship process itself. Many apprentices work through levels of school-based training alternating with work-place apprentice training. So, if it is difficult to get placed with an employer apprentices cannot proceed with their training. Encouraging employers to invest in training apprentices is an integral part of the whole trades training piece.

Currently, many businesses can benefit from trades training tax credits, but these credits are mainly geared toward first and second year apprentice training. While tax credits are a benefit to many businesses, many smaller businesses may not be able to take advantage of the credits. In addition, these credits also offer no incentive to place third and fourth year apprentices. Third and fourth year apprentices already have higher wages rates, so not being able to take advantage of this tax credit further discourage employers from hiring and training these levels of apprentices.

Expanding this tax credit should level the playing field in terms of employers hiring a variety of apprentice levels.

Bruce Carter
CEO, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce
Business Examiner - June 2014

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