Why now is the perfect time to pursue a career in trades

B.C.’s trades industry is poised for record opportunities 

There has never been a better time in the history of British Columbia than now to be considering a career in the skilled trades.

“Everything that is built or manu-factured like roads, cars, boats or ferries, and everything maintained like heating systems or electrical systems are touched by the hands of skilled trades every day,” says Gary Herman, CEO of B.C.’s Industry Training Authority (ITA).

“It’s important that we don’t lose sight of the know-how economy; those who build, make and maintain everything.” 

B.C. is blessed with a very diverse economy, including a strong manufacturing sector—from the expanded agri-foods, tourism and technology sector to automotive and potential LNG, explains Herman.

“There are currently 364 major capital projects that are worth $79.6 billion undergoing construction in the province,” Herman states.

As a result, the ITA is working with the B.C. government to build a demand-driven trades training system aligned to specific high priority trades, which is all part of the B.C. Skills for Jobs Blueprint initiatives. 

Herman also reminds businesses that companies are going to lose a fair contingent of tradespeople to retirement over the next eight years, and that is a factor that should also be considered.

“Employers need to be looking for new talent now to get them up to speed and get them well on their way to support their businesses going forward,” he says. 

There are currently 38,000 apprentices and over 10,000 employer sponsors in B.C. According to Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, for every dollar that an employer invests in apprenticeship training, they receive an average return on investment of $1.52.

The jobs in demand cover industries such as aerospace, manufacturing, automotive, forestry, marine transportation and tourism and hospitality; and some of the top trades include: millwrights, welders, machinists, crane operators, sprinkler system installers, pipe fitters and steam fitters, professional cooks, construction electricians and carpenters.

“The time for employers to focus on succession planning is now,” he says. “Government anticipates a million jobs created between now and 2024, and two-thirds of those jobs are going to be from baby boomers leaving the workforce. A third of them are for the growing economy.” 

This is certainly an exciting time skilled workers in B.C.