Okanagan College Launches Apprentice Hiring Project

Female Welding student stands in front of equipment with her mask flipped open on her head.

August 31, 2022

Hiring and training first year apprentices in the skilled trades is now easier and more affordable for regional employers.

Launching this month, the Okanagan College Apprentice Hiring Project received over $3 million in funding and will be using that money to support small and medium sized enterprises who hire first-year apprentices, helping the businesses offset costs that come with onboarding new skilled workers.

The project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Apprenticeship Service.

Under the project, employers are eligible to receive $5,000 for each first-year apprentice they hire, for up to two apprentices per year. The incentive is increased to $10,000 when employers hire an apprentice who voluntarily chooses to identify as a person within one or more equity-deserving groups (women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, members of the LGBTQ2SI+ communities, newcomers and visible minorities).

“Apprenticeships provide the hands-on work experience that people need to pursue a career in skilled trades,” says Stephen Speers, Okanagan College dean of trades and apprenticeship. “Employers play a key role in our training and certification system, but in today’s economy, it can be difficult to find the additional resources to offer apprenticeship training and to build our regional workforce. This program helps address that challenge.”

Speers says the Okanagan College initiative, which is one of 13 projects funded nationally and the only project led by a public college, will be promoted to construction and manufacturing companies from as far north as Revelstoke all the way to the Canada-US border. Employers can use the incentive to pay for a wide range of needs, including upfront costs such as salaries and technical training, funding hiring bonuses, or purchasing tools, equipment, and PPE for new apprentices.

“With approximately 22 per cent of skilled trades retiring in the next 10 years, it has never been more important to fund, promote and support the training of skilled workers,” says Chuck Cullen, project manager at Team Construction in Kelowna. Cullen graduated from Okanagan College with his Red Seal in Carpentry in 1993.

“At ITA, we recognize that the role of an employer goes beyond providing apprentices with a job or work experience—they inspire, mentor and develop future leaders in trades,” says Shelley Gray, CEO of Industry Training Authority. “We are pleased that this funding will help build B.C.’s skilled workforce and guide numerous apprentices toward successful and valuable careers.”

Employers with 499 or fewer employees (small to medium sized enterprises) are eligible for funding support through the OC Apprenticeship Training Project.

Go HERE to learn more about the Okanagan College Apprentice Hiring Project.

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