A $3.6-million program that connects workers with established tradespeople and construction executives as mentors started taking applications Tuesday.
The program targets people who are under-employed, out of work, unskilled or unregistered apprentices.
The B.C. Construction Association’s new Building Builders program is designed to tackle the labour shortage in the industry by attracting new talent and retaining existing workers.
The program will offer one-to-one coaching, job leads and work experience in all of the construction trades.
“If you don’t have the right contacts, it can be hard to navigate a career in the construction industry,” said association president Chris Atchison. “[High school] guidance counsellors, parents and teachers aren’t always fully informed about the opportunities or encouraging of a non-academic path.”
The construction industry estimates there will be 27,630 job openings in construction by 2027 in B.C. as a result of a construction boom and loss of workers due to retirement.
While the average age of an apprentice in B.C. is now 27, the association is hoping Building Builders will help first-year apprentices get started earlier and stay in the system by providing personalized, ongoing career guidance. There are 300 positions available under the program.
Mentors will be screened to ensure they have been working in the industry for at least 10 years, the association says.
The association also launched a $21-million grant program last month to increase incentives to companies to hire and register new apprenticeships.
The program pays contractors directly to hire labourers into apprentice programs or to register workers who want to switch trades and apprentice in another discipline.
Participating employers will receive $5,000 for hiring or registering any worker. They’ll receive an additional $5,000 if the worker self-reports as a woman, new Canadian, LGBTQ+, Indigenous, a person with a disability or a visible minority.
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.
More information and applications for Building Builders are available at buildingbuilders.ca.