The B.C. government is moving ahead with compulsory certification for the estimated 100,000 people working in skilled trades, starting with electrical, automotive and mechanical trades such as pipefitters and sheet metal workers.
The move was ordered by Premier John Horgan after the October 2020 election, after recommendations from the B.C. Federation of Labour that decertifying trades was a shift to employers and their immediate skill needs, at the expense of completion of traditional trades training. Certification requirement was removed in 2003 under former premier Gordon Campbell, and the Crown corporation Industry Training Authority was set up to manage apprentices.
Horgan and Advanced Education Minister Anne Kang announced the change June 11, with a year for employers and apprentices to make the transition. People working in trades are expected to take registered apprentice training or challenge the exams to become certified.
“Similar to a post-secondary degree, a certified trades worker has a certification that is recognized by employers, just like teachers, lab techs, nurses and other certified workers,” Kang said. “By recognizing the worker’s skill, we will attract more people into careers in trades to help address labour shortages across a variety of trades.”
The first trades that will require certification are gasfitter Class A and B, steamfitter and pipefitter, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic, sheet metal worker, powerline technician, industrial electrician and electrician (construction), heavy-duty equipment technician, automotive service technician and autobody and collision technician.
Langley MLA Andrew Mercier, parliamentary secretary for skills training, said a province-wide consultation is underway as of June 11 and will include apprentices, trades workers, employers, Indigenous people and representatives for women and immigrants before expanding the certification to other trades in phases.