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B.C. mandatory trades certification ‘phased in’ starting this year

Industry Training Authority renamed SkilledTradesBC
Office building construction site in Victoria, 2019. The B.C. government is expanding mandatory certification for skilled trades. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

The B.C. government is moving ahead with mandatory trades certification over the next two years, as it deals with a growing skills shortage due to retirements.

After declaring last summer that certification would return for 10 trades, the province began consultation to implement it while keeping experienced but uncertified people on the job. Advanced Education Minister Anne Kang announced Feb. 14 that the requirement will be phased in between now and 2024.

The NDP government began the return to compulsory certification in June 2021, 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 Industry Training Authority, set up in 2003, is being renamed SkilledTradesBC.

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. Certification requirement was removed in 2003 under former premier Gordon Campbell, and the Crown corporation Industry Training Authority was set up to manage apprentices.

The NDP government was also seeing a wave of retirements in construction trades, not being replaced by new apprentices coming in.

The first 10 trades that required 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.

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