Pattullo Bridge replacement is one of a group of major construction projects due to begin in B.C. with union-only labour. (Black Press Media)

Pattullo Bridge replacement is one of a group of major construction projects due to begin in B.C. with union-only labour. (Black Press Media)

LETTER: Compulsory trades training for B.C. apprentices makes sense

B.C. Building Trades women’s group endorses NDP’s move

Re: Compulsory trades next battleground for B.C. industry, Black Press, Jan. 5, 2021

We are pipefitters, electricians, insulators, refrigeration mechanics, commercial transportation mechanics, sheet metal workers, traffic control specialists and carpenters.

We are also tradeswomen and members of Build TogetHER, the women’s committee of the BC Building Trades. And we support the B.C. NDP government’s move to restore compulsory trades. Here’s why.

When a trade is designated compulsory, it means that anyone working in that trade is legally required to register as an apprentice or journeyperson with the appropriate training authority. An apprenticeship is typically a four-year process that combines classroom time with the job site hours prescribed for that trade to achieve journeyperson or Red Seal status.

The previous B.C. Liberal government eliminated compulsory trades in this province, and B.C. continues to be the only province in Canada that doesn’t have them. What does this mean? It means that, legally, anyone can wire your house or work on the brakes on your car.

The B.C. Liberals also diluted apprenticeship training by compartmentalizing in-demand skill sets. This was done with no thought to the future or what workers actually need to sustain lifelong careers in the trades.

Take the economic fallout from COVID-19, for example. For some of us, a fulsome apprenticeship meant that we were able to pivot our skills at the start of the pandemic when certain jobs were delayed or scaled back – like the planned expansion at YVR and the LNG Canada facility in Kitimat. We were dispatched to other jobs because, thanks to an apprenticeship, we have the full scope of skills and training for varied work.

Compulsory trades go hand in hand with a well-managed apprenticeship system. Together, they ensure B.C.’s trades workers can safely and competently build and maintain the roads, bridges, utilities and infrastructure we use every day. Bring back compulsory trades.

Ashley Duncan, insulator, co-chair of Build TogetHER

Chelsea French, commercial transportation mechanic, co-chair of Build TogetHER

Julia Ballantyne, refrigeration mechanic; Kristine Byers, carpenter; Sarina Hanschke, traffic control; Barbara James, carpenter; Miranda Kurucz, steamfitter; Tara McDonald, sheet metal worker; Katy Rhodes, electrician; Mollie Routledge, electrician

B.C. Building Trades

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