As graduates from high school cross the stage, they’re suddenly faced with a simple and stressful question: what next? When students find themselves wondering what their future looks like, the B.C. Government wants them to consider skilled trades.
“Right now, and you’ll hear from businesses, you’ll hear from construction contractors, and project owners, they’ll talk about this like a crisis and in many ways it is,” said Andrew Mercier, MLA for Langley and Parliamentary Secretary for skills training.
The B.C. Government is predicting a significant demographic shift in the trades. About 70 per cent of the shift is expected to be caused by retirement, opening up over 80,000 jobs in the next ten years. To offset the loss of workers, the B.C. Government is looking to get younger people into the trades earlier. Part of their push to incentivize the trades is to help change the perception of the trades.
Mercier said the B.C. Government is looking to increase the professionalization of the trades.
“One thing we’ve done is we’ve introduced skilled trades certification for ten trades,” said Mercier.
The purpose of bringing in more certifications is to add prestige to an industry that is inherently valuable, but has often been socially undermined, which the B.C. Government is working to correct.
With so many jobs opening up in the next decade, Mercier said that people would benefit from considering the trades.
“If you are a young person out there looking for a career or you’re someone that is looking to change careers, this is an opportunity, there has never been a better time to get into the skilled trades than right now,” said Mercier.
In Revelstoke, the high school offers students the opportunity to get involved in a trade while they’re still in school. Through the work experience classes, students can get involved in – and work with – a Revelstoke business that gives experience, money, and credit towards graduation. Work experience can be in a variety of different businesses in the community, including the trades.
“The hope with work experience, especially in the realm of trades, is that it would transition into what’s called a work in trades program,” said Kristen Scheiber, work experience and career education coordinator at Revelstoke Secondary School.
The high school tries to work with the local detachment of the Okanagan College to help students access the next step in their careers — whether it be in the trades or further schooling.
“The programming that we bring to Revelstoke, we try to maximize the opportunities for the community,” said Joan Ragsdale, regional dean for the Revelstoke campus of Okanagan College.
The college courses are available to students who are still in high school and the ones who are already finished. For the students still in high school, class tuition can be subsidized by the district. Through the Columbia Basin Trust, Ragsdale said there is also funding available to cover tuition for those who aren’t in high school.
The college brings in a trade on a rotational basis. Previously, they had a culinary program and a carpentry program. For the latter, the class helped to build a house in Revelstoke as part of the training.
Mercier recommended that anyone considering a future in the trades should visit findyourtrade.ca or speak to one their apprentice advisors to learn more about their options.
Scheiber also added that for trades businesses interested in taking on an apprentice, there are financial benefits to do so, including wage subsidies through the government, Columbia Basin Trust, and the district.