EMPLOYERS who need skilled trades to operate are being urged to hire apprentices to ensure there are eventually enough journeymen to meet the demands of a growing and changing economy.
And the need for apprentices in the northwest who will eventually earn trades certifications will increase as larger industrial projects begin to take shape, said Kevin Evans, the chief executive officer of the Industry Training Authority, the provincial agency which helps finance trades training, while on a visit to Terrace last week.
Only one in five employers now hire apprentices, noted Evans.
“Employers like to hire journeypeople but we need to do more to engage employers to take on apprentices,” he said.
Evans and other Industry Training Authority officials hosted a Jan. 24 event in Terrace to recognize more than 30 local employers who have taken on apprentices.
Another 120 local employers will also receive a recognition certificate from the authority.
The training authority spends more than $100 million on trades training programs in the province.
In the northwest that has translated into just over $1.6 million being provided for trades students at Northwest Community College for the fiscal year ending March 31.
That money acted as a subsidy to help lower tuition costs for students, noted Evans.
“Our support for the college is alive and kicking,” he said.
Evans added that it is important to have an institution such as Northwest Community College positioned to provide the kind of training needed as the regional economy begins to improve.
Statistics provided by the authority show the money was provided to 11 programs ranging from automotive service technician to heavy equipment training to welding.
Those programs covered 534 students.
The authority also provided just under $500,000 through another provincial program for students who are either not EI eligible or are considered underemployed. It’s used to cover the costs of their trades training plus providing more services such as child care, a living allowance or accommodation.
The authority’s trades spending this year at the college matches about what it was the year before.
But the additional $500,000 for student support provided this year is a new feature, said Evans.
“We’re also looking forward to the next fiscal year and we don’t anticipate doing anything less,” he said of planned spending by the training authority at the college.