B.C. offers incentives to hire diverse apprentices

B.C. builders will receive thousands of dollars in financial incentives to hire new workers from diverse backgrounds.

A trades student in B.C. practices their skills.

Trades students practice their skills at a B.C. school. – Province of B.C.

Key Takeaways:

  • The B.C. Construction Association received $21 million in federal funding to assist smaller companies.
  • The funds will support those who employ new workers.
  • Companies can receive even more funding if new hires are diverse.
  • The association also plans to begin a major construction recruitment campaign.

The Whole Story:

B.C. contractors just got a major financial incentive to hire new tradespeople. 

The BC Construction Association (BCCA) received more than $21 million in funding from the Government of Canada’s Apprenticeship Service to encourage small and medium sized employers in BC’s construction industry to hire and register first-year apprentices.

A B.C. construction company with fewer than 500 employees can receive financial incentives for hiring new employees or registering existing ones as first-year apprentices in 39 Red Seal Trades.

Participating employers will receive $5,000 for hiring or registering any worker. However, an additional $5,000 will be received if the worker self-reports as a woman, new Canadian, LGBTQ+, Indigenous, a person with a disability, or a visible minority.

The BCCA stated that this is intended to encourage and promote diversity in the sector. 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.

“BC’s construction industry is in a vice grip right now, and it’s tightening,” said Chris Atchison, BCCA president. “Employers are dealing with rising costs, material shortages, increased taxes, mandatory sick pay, labour shortages, and late payments. It can be costly to hire and train new apprentices, and especially in this climate, $40,000 can go a good distance to alleviating some of that cost burden.”

The association explained that participating employers can spend the financial incentives at their discretion. For example: 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. 

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

According to the data from the association, B.C.’s construction industry is approximately 95 percent male and most employers are small, with 90 percent employing 20 workers or less.

“We need more skilled trades workers in British Columbia, and across Canada,” said Carla Qualtrough, minister of employment. “That’s why we’re working with employers to create tens of thousands of new apprenticeships. 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.”

In addition to the financial incentives, the BCCA stated it will embark on a major promotional campaign to attract new talent to the industry.

“We know that construction employers are already doing their best to find and hire workers” said Atchison. “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.”


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