Ottawa invests $21 million in construction apprentices

Funding can be used for hiring bonuses, offsetting costs of mandatory sick leave, training and mentoring

Ottawa invests $21 million in construction apprentices

British Columbia employers in the construction space can take advantage of new funding to hire apprentices.

The federal government is investing over $21 million with the British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) for its Construction Industry Apprenticeship Program project to help out employers in their search for workers.

The project will provide financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in B.C. to hire a minimum of 2,100 first-year apprentices in eligible Red Seal trades over the next two years. At least 500 of these seats are dedicated for first-year apprentices from equity-deserving groups such as women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people and racialized people.

Under the program, participating employers will receive $5,000 for hiring or registering any worker. Employers will also get an additional $5,000 if the worker they hire self-reports as a minority.

“We need more skilled trades workers in British Columbia, and across Canada. That’s why we’re working with employers to create tens of thousands of new apprenticeships,” says Carla Qualtrough, minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion. “It’s why we’re doubling incentives for employers who hire women, persons with disabilities, and other traditionally marginalized groups — to make sure that everyone who wants to pursue a skilled trade has the chance to.”

B.C.’s construction industry is roughly 95 per cent male and continues to face a skilled workforce shortage, according to BCCA.

While 96 per cent of Canadians agree that the country's workforce needs more skilled trades workers, 76 per cent say they would never pursue a skilled trade for themselves, finds 3M Canada.

Employers can spend the financial incentives at their discretion, including for 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.

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.

As part of the program, BCCA will provide culture training via its Builders Code program, and mentorship support through its new Building Builders initiative.

“We know that construction employers are already doing their best to find and hire workers” says Chris Atchison, BCCA president. “So, in addition to the financial incentives, we’re going to mount a compelling acquisition campaign to bring new talent to employers who list their jobs with us. We’ll be working with a digital recruitment agency, as well as a marketing and communications agency. We’re pulling out all the stops.”

Recently, Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) partnered with the CFL Players Association (CFLPA) to address the labour shortage affecting the construction industry. The CBTU — which represents 14 unions and more than 600,000 workers — will provide players, current and retired, with access to training in the sector.

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