$21M grant aims to rectify B.C. construction trades worker shortage

Attendees at BC Construction Association’s announcement: (left to right) Knowledge Keeper Florence Dick from the Songhees Nation, Honourable Kamal Khera, Canada’s Minister of Seniors, Linda Ryan, BCCA Apprenticeship Services program manager, and Chris Atchison, BCCA president. Photo courtesy BC Construction Association

The Government of Canada’s Apprenticeship Service has granted more than $21M to the BC Construction Association (BCCA), in hopes of solving the province’s skilled trades worker shortage by incentivizing the construction sector’s SME employers to attract more hires into first-year trade apprenticeships.

The scope of the funding covers 39 trades in Canada’s interprovincial Red Seal Program and applies to any employer with less than 500 employees.

Participating employers will receive $5,000 for hiring or registering any worker. An additional $5,000 will be received if the worker self-reports as a woman, new Canadian, LGBTQ+, Indigenous, a person with a disability, or a visible minority, to incentivize workforce diversity. Employers can receive payments for up to two first-year apprenticeship positions per year during the two years of the drive, for a maximum of $40,000 per employer.

Employers can spend the financial incentives at their discretion. For example: hiring bonuses, gear and work apparel, childcare costs, offsetting business taxes, offsetting costs of mandatory sick leave, training, and mentoring, raises for field or office staff, safety equipment, or new technology. As part of the service to employers, BCCA will provide culture training via its Builders Code program, and mentorship support through its new Building Builders initiative.

BC’s construction industry is approximately 95 per cent male and continues to face a skilled workforce shortage during a time of high demand for construction services. Most employers are small, with 90 per cent employing 20 workers or less.

“The skilled trades offer many exciting and rewarding career opportunities, and they are in high demand,” said Kamal Khera, Minister of Seniors. “The Apprenticeship Service will help Canadians get valuable work experience in the skilled trades, particularly equity-deserving groups such as women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people and racialized people.”

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