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B.C. to reinstate mandatory certification system for trade workers

The BC Government is bringing back a mandatory skilled trades certification system that was dispensed in 2003. The certification will occur in phases starting with 10 initial trades: 3 electrical, 4 mechanical, and 3 automotive.

BC is aiming to introduce legislation next spring, which will give workers and employers a year to either challenge trade requirements to earn certification through existing experience or register in apprenticeship program. The first changes are expected to be introduced in the electrical and mechanical trades by 2023 and in automotive by 2025.

Skilled trades certification means uncertified workers in selected trades will need to become certified or register as an apprentice with the Industry Training Authority (ITA) to be legally able to work in that trade. The system aims to facilitate training and to open doors for thousands of workers to be successful and have lifelong careers in the trades.

Reinstatement will begin for the following 10 occupation, chosen due to existing high demand for skilled workers:

  • Electrician
  • Industrial electrician
  • Powerline electrician
  • Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic
  • Gas fitter
  • Steamfitter and pipefitter
  • Sheet metal worker
  • Heavy duty equipment technician
  • Automotive technician
  • Autobody and collision technician

B.C. removed the requirement of tradespeople to be certified in 2003, making it the only jurisdiction in Canada without a system for mandatory credentials. The new program will fill a gap left by the cancellation of this former certification system.

Government estimated that among 100,000 tradespeople, there are about 8,000 uncertified workers in B.C. who have no certification to recognize their skills. As a result, they are often paid less and have less regular work. The province says, certification will help fill trade roles and build prestige around careers in the trades. It will also help to benefit workers by improving their skills and standard of living while maintaining existing high safety standards, benefiting employers and the public by minimizing labor disruptions.

Tradespeople are building British Columbia and we need to value that work. Premier John Horgan called this announcement “transformative” in helping the province rebound post-pandemic.

Critics argue, that even before COVID-19 pandemic, employers faced shortages of skilled people in the labor market and placing additional requirements like mandatory certification on workers and their employers will decrease employment opportunities in the short term. The labor pool would shrink as some uncertified workers would drop out rather than entering the certification process.

COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated some hiring problems while alleviating others, in turn forcing companies to hiring foreign nationals in trade occupations. Every year thousands of skilled workers immigrate to Canada to fill the labor market gap. If the skilled trades certification is made mandatory it will be difficult for foreign workers to attain required credentials from their home country. The gap between Temporary Foreign Workers and Canadian companies who deal with hiring barriers will increase, affecting Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Program.

If you are a Canadian employer struggling to match open positions with qualified and available candidates; you can hire Temporary Foreign Workers to fill the unprecedented labor shortage. We at Can X can help you with Labor Market Impact Assessment applications. If you are foreign national who wishes to work in Canada, we can help you in preparing your work permit application.