British Columbia has a long and proud legacy of opening its doors to newcomers.
However, New Canadians can frequently face obstacles when looking to enter the trades, even if they have prior experience from their country of origin due to, language barriers, economic considerations or lack of proper certification.
In 2008, the Industry Training Authority launched the Immigrants in Trades Training (ITT) initiative.
This program, which receives funding through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement, is geared towards helping New Canadians gain the skills and certification needed to enter the trades. The current Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement ends on March 31, 2014.
In just five short years, ITT has provided training to over 1,500 New Canadians, with many of the program graduates going onto careers as Electricians, Plumbers, Sheet Metal Workers, and Carpenters, just to name a few.
Immigrants in Trades Training supports participants through essential skills and upgrading resources, funding for pre-apprenticeship training, as well as support for tools and equipment. ITT also provides links to employers with the goal of transitioning into apprenticeship and obtaining their B.C. Ticket. Obtaining a Ticket gives tradespeople the opportunity to earn more money, have more job security, and have better employment opportunities.
The program has had a significant impact on the lives of numerous New Canadians.
Abinder Sharma, an Electrical Engineer from India, lacked the proper credentials to get a skilled job in BC when he arrived in 2010. “It was a tough decision to come to Canada and start over. The ITA Immigrants in Trades Training (ITT) initiative helped me get my previous work experience recognized,” says Mr. Sharma, who now works as a Construction Manager with B.C. Hydro.
“ITT helped me get qualified and find a job,” says Bikash Thapa, an Electric Apprentice hailing from Nepal. “I love what I do. I have a house and can support my family.”
In addition to assisting New Canadians, the ITA ITT initiative has also played a crucial role in B.C.’s long-term labour market strategy.
According to the B.C. Trade Occupations Outlook, by 2020 one in ten job openings are expected to be in trade occupations, including new jobs and jobs to replace retiring workers. That’s at least 104,600 new job openings.
In light of these projections, ITT has not only helped hundreds of New Canadians settle into their lives in Canada, but has also been instrumental in training the skilled workforce that this province will need for years to come.