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Community Benefits Agreements Help Apprentices

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Goretti Guibault and Brian Cochrane: Community Benefits Agreements needed to fix 16 years of mishandling apprenticeships and training

 

Goretti Guibault & Brian Cochrane

Updated: August 11, 2018

Much has been written recently about whether British Columbia’s new Community Benefits Agreements process for major public construction projects are a good thing.

But what hasn’t been much discussed is why. Community Benefits Agreements are needed. It’s pretty simple: Because apprenticeship training was mishandled for 16 years in B.C. and the number of skilled workers being trained dramatically deteriorated.

The facts prove it.

Statistics Canada found that in 2016 B.C. had 4,500 fewer new apprentices signed up than in 2013, despite huge demand in the booming construction industry.

And total registrants in B.C. apprenticeships dropped from 4,110 between 2005 to 2009 to just 2,778 from 2009 to 2014.

Red Seal trades certifications — the highest standard recognized across Canada since 1952 — dropped in B.C. from 84 per cent between 2001 to 2004 to just 65 per cent between 2011 to 2014.

This when employers were desperately searching for skilled trades workers, even resorting to hiring temporary foreign workers and causing a national controversy as they displaced Canadians.

What happened? In 2002, the then-new B.C. Liberal government literally blew up the province’s apprenticeship program at the request of some short-sighted construction employers, who thought they could save money by cutting training.

The changes were radical:

Hours of required on-the-job training were dramatically cut and professional titles downgraded. A carpenter who needed 6,450 hours over four years could be replaced by a “residential framing technician” doing just 500 hours on the job in one year.

B.C. eliminated 11 compulsory-designated trades, including electricians, plumbers, sheet metal workers and steamfitters/pipefitters —becoming the only province with none.

The number of Provincial Apprenticeship Branch staff was initially slashed from about 120 to just 12.

The province created 28 new apprenticeship programs in 2005 but then eliminated 11 of them by 2013, creating more confusion in the trades.

Labour and education representatives who had always been a key part of apprenticeship governance were removed, taking away experienced, knowledgeable people from the program.

These and other changes created chaos in the apprenticeship system.

As bad as things were generally, they were much worse for women, Indigenous workers, people with disabilities and others hoping to enter the skilled trades to get a better job and life.

Only 13 per cent of apprentices in 2016 were women, despite provincial government claims it was promoting the trades to underrepresented groups.

And one of the new apprenticeships created in 2005 was “Native residential construction worker,” which encouraged 1,005 registrations. But it was one of the programs eliminated and by 2014 there was no one left registered.

The plain facts are that the B.C. Liberal government — strongly backed by non-union contractors and unions not recognized as legitimate by Canada’s labour movement — simply screwed up our apprenticeship program.

Now that regrettable situation has to be fixed — and fast — as B.C. has fallen dramatically behind in producing apprentices with the skills needed to build our province.

Community Benefits Agreements won’t solve all the problems 16 years of incompetence created, but they are a very good start.

It only makes sense that government partner with those labour organizations that have led skills training initiatives and invest millions of dollars annually in partnership with construction contractors to ensure B.C. has the skilled workforce ready to meet pending demand.

It’s time to get back to work on apprenticeships so we can build B.C. properly and train the next generation of workers we urgently need. Community Benefits Agreements will help get the job done right.

Goretti Guibault is a heavy equipment operator who mentors other women entering trades and is on the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 115 executive board. Brian Cochrane is business manager, IUOE Local 115.

 

Brian Cochrane

One Time ACE-IT Student Becomes Red Seal Journeyperson with a Little Help from the FTI

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The Finishing Trades Institute of BC has just shared an important milestone with one of our recent graduates. Jillian Steeves, became our first ever (ACE-IT) student to receive all of her in-school apprenticeship training and complete the Red Seal, Painter Decorator program with the FTI of BC. The fact that our first ever (ACE-IT) student to complete this feat is a woman, makes this an even more rewarding accomplishment.

For years now, we in the building trades have recognized that our traditional sources of recruitment are falling short when it comes to replacing our ageing skilled workforce. This is why when the (ACE-IT) program came along we were all in when it came to making this program a success. The Youth Train In Trades (ACE IT) program is an Industry Training Authority (ITA) youth initiative that provides support for students to acquire training that leads to certification as a journeyman, while they are enrolled in high school. Jillian was actually writing her high school final exams and making plans for Grad, the week she started her apprenticeship training at the FTI.

Thanks to the encouragement of a dedicated and proactive high school councillor at Frank Hurt Secondary School, located in Surrey, Jillian found her way into the (ACE-IT) program. Jillian told us that she had always had an interest in interior design and the use of colours so the painting program just felt like a natural fit. And fit in she has!

After completing her first level of training, Jillian set out to land her first job as a painter. Warline Painting Limited, had a sharp-eyed HR person, who also just happens to be a woman, who immediately spotted the potential in Jillian and offered her a career with their company.  Jillian can’t say enough good things about her employer and the support she has received throughout her apprenticeship. In addition to allowing her the flexibility in her schedule to allow her to attend apprenticeship training, Warline Painting, also paid her full tuition.

In return, Warline Painting now has a Red Seal Journeyperson, who this week is leading a crew of six men working on several “High-End” homes around the Lower Mainland. Not too shabby when you consider that Jillian is only 21 years old. When we asked Jillian what it was like leading an all male crew she told us that she couldn’t be happier with the way she has been accepted. In fact, she told us, her co-workers appreciate the fact that she was prepared to shoulder the responsibility of being the lead person and relieve them of the stress that goes with that job.

However, some of Jillian’s highest praise goes to the FTI of BC and specifically her instructor, Chico Albino. Chico taught Jillian through all three levels of her schooling and speaks glowingly of her work ethic, her attention to detail and her maturity for such a young person. Jillian appreciated Chico’s patience and how he allowed her to learn from the mistakes she made and to not allow those mistakes to impede her goal of completing the program and earning her Red Seal. Chico allowed her to work and learn in and environment where the stresses were minimized and the successes were emphasised.

When we asked Jillian what was the greatest satisfaction she took from her experience here at the FTI and what advice she would give to other young people, she didn’t hesitate in giving us an answer. “Start out with the goal of finishing what you’ve started”. That is exactly what she accomplished when she successfully wrote and passed the Red Seal exam. Pretty good advice from a very impressive young woman.

Liberal MP’s Dan Ruimy and Ron McKinnon Show support for Union Training Facilities

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On a recent flight to Ottawa for a Building Trades Conference, Director of Training of the Finishing Trades Institute of BC, Paddy Byrne, was approached by a gentleman who noticed that he was wearing an FTI shirt. “I see you are wearing a Finishing Trades Institute shirt. I would like a tour of your facility” the gentleman said. “Of course” replied Byrne “now, who are you”?

It turns out that gentleman was Liberal MP for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge, Dan Ruimy. Then another gentleman spoke up and said “I’d like a tour too”. Byrne was surprised to see that his own local MP, Ron McKinnon, who represents Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, was also on the flight. Byrne immediately extended an invitation to both Ron and Dan and yesterday both MP’s had their opportunity to see first hand the excellent work we do here at the FTI of BC.

The Liberal Government and their Leader, Justin Trudeau, has made no secret of the fact that they are big supporters of Union apprenticeship training facilities across Canada. In the time that the Liberals have been in office, no fewer than five Liberal MP’s have taken the opportunity to tour our school here in Surrey. Our local MP, Randeep Sarai, has been here twice. The previous Conservative administration, under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, never once stepped foot into our training centre during their entire tenure.

In the next ten years it is believed that 248,000 construction workers across Canada will retire from the workforce. Union training facilities in every province in this country are doing our part to train the next generation of Red Seal tradespeople. It’s comforting to see that there is a Federal Government in place now that appreciates our contributions in developing tomorrow’s skilled workforce.

BC Centre for Women in the Trades Celebrates Launch

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We are proud and excited to invite you to the launch of the BC Centre for Women in the Trades. Join the Honourable Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills & Training, and the BCCWITT governance partners: BC Federation of Labour; BC Building Trades; BC LNG Alliance; Construction Labour Relations Association of BC; BC Tradeswomen Society, Build TogetHER for light refreshments June 28th, 2018 at 6:30 – 8:00pm IBEW 1424 Broadway St, Port Coquitlam.

Your RSVP is required by June 22nd info@BCtradeswomen.org

The BC Centre for Women in the Trades will provide programs and services for women and industry to support the retention and advancement of women in the trades. The BCCWITT would like to thank the Government of Canada and the BC Government for their sponsorship of this program

FTI, Done Right Painting and Ross Rex Industrial Painters at North Shore Trade Fair

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This week the Finishing Trades Institute of BC, lent our assistance to two of our painting contractors at a hiring fair in North Vancouver. The Squamish and Tsleil Waututh Nations along with the YWCA and Work BC held a joint hiring fair at the Lonsdale Pipe Shop next to the Lonsdale Quay. This was the second hiring fair of its type held on the North Shore and based on more than double the traffic through the event this year, the fair could only be described as an overwhelming success.

Our signatory contractor, Done Right Painting, was joined this year by another member contractor, Ross Rex Industrial Painters. The FTI had partnered with Done Right Painting at last years event and we were happy to be back again lending our expertise. We are starting to get pretty good at displaying our wares at these events, having started to increase our attendance at fairs such as these over the past couple of years. Even with the small area we had to work with, we still managed to put on a pretty good display of what the FTI and our contractors have to offer in the way of a career as a commercial or industrial painter and the training that goes along with the Red Seal apprenticeship.

Beyond the ability to speak with potential candidates who showed an interest in going to work for our contractors, there was also plenty of opportunity to interact with other contractors and professional groups at the fair. The event was MC’d by Peter Baker, of the Squamish Nation Trades Training Centre, who is a big supporter of the FTI. The Squamish Nation Trades Centre has partnered with us in delivering introductory trades training in painting and wall and ceiling installation to individuals from First Nations communities.

By the end of the event we had several potential candidates who were interested in our programs and the potential for a career in the Finishing Trades.

FTI Returns to the Delta Schools Trade Fair

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On May 30, 2018 the FTI returned to the Delta Schools Trades Fair for another successful exhibition of what an apprenticeship at the Finishing Trades looks like.

Literally thousands of students, teachers and high school councillors took this opportunity to explore the benefits and satisfaction that comes with a career earned through a Red Seal apprenticeship delivered by the FTI of BC. The feedback from our participation at this event has been all positive. In fact, at a recent meeting of school board representatives south of the Fraser river,  there were comments made that the FTI had the best display at the show.

We tried to be as interactive with the students as possible in showing them some of the tools, equipment and materials we use in the four trades we teach, through a couple of hands on activities.  We actually ran the battery dead in our scissor lift by 2:30 in the afternoon due to the high demand by students for a ride. Line-ups occurred throughout the day as students and teachers lined up for an opportunity to take a ride with our Health and Safety Coordinator, Andrew Swan.

At the end of the day the entire enterprise was about raising awareness of the Finishing Trades and to that end all of our representatives who attended the fair agreed it was well worth attending. We definitely intend to return next year.

 

Supervisor Training Returns to the FTI

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After an absence of a couple of years, the Supervisor Training Program or (STP), made its return to the FTI in Surrey BC, last week .

The reason for this program not being delivered for some time was due to the fact that the original course, although still valuable, needed to go through a comprehensive rewrite due to changes that have occurred in the past few years in the construction industry. The new program was delivered to 20, DC 38 lead hands, foremen, contractors and young journeymen who our contractors had selected as potential foremen. The course was taught over two days and was well received by many in the class saying that it is something we needed to run more regularly.

This very extensive course consisted of 13 modules, covering a wide array of topics. Everything from leadership and mentoring to planning and scheduling, teamwork and communication to understanding costs and labour relations was covered along with many more important subjects. Every individual we spoke to at the end of the class said it was something that should not only be delivered to more journey persons but that aspects of the course should be incorporated into our regular apprenticeship programs.

Bob Swanson, former President of Swanson and Young Painting based out of Minnesota, was the lead instructor for this class. He was ably assisted by Jeff Blyth and Simon Hazelwood both from DC 46 in Ontario. Bob, Jeff and Simon all commented on how impressed they were with the overall caliber of the students in this class and remarked about their willingness to jump into the training with both feet.

It is our intention to run this program much more frequently and also to introduce even more of the programs being developed at the FTI International with regard to leadership.

MP for Surrey Centre Randeep Sarai Tours the FTI

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When Member of Parliament for Surrey Centre, Randeep Sarai accompanied fellow MP Ahmed Hussen in his effort to promote a private members Bill seeking community benefits on government funded projects here at the FTI last year, he unfortunately had a prior commitment that prevented him from touring our facility at that time.

A few things have changed since that meeting was held here in our Hazardous Materials training classroom. First, MP Hussen is now the Federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. That private members Bill has now been passed into law and MP Sarai managed to make it back to our training centre to see firsthand what it is we do here with regard to apprenticeship and hazardous materials abatement training.

Last week turned out to be a very good time for Mr. Sarai to visit the FTI due to the fact that we had two painting classes, a wall & ceiling installer class, a glazing class, a hazardous materials abatement course and a Supervisor Training program all running at the same time. The FTI was a beehive of activity and the Member of Parliament got to see a great display of the variety of training programs we deliver.

Perhaps the most satisfying moment of the tour was when MP Sarai addressed our Supervisor Training class (STP) and began to speak about the support the Federal Liberal Government has shown towards union training centres across Canada. He also went on to speak about two repressive pieces of legislation brought in by the previous Conservative government that the Liberals tossed out, making union organizing less restrictive. MP Sarai received a rousing and somewhat surprising round of applause from our STP trainees. The ordinarily reserved group of foremen, supervisors and contractors rose to their feet and their applause was sustained and sincere.

We are hoping that we can access some of the $50 million the Federal Liberals are making available later this year to union training facilities. MP Sarai is supportive of our desire to put some of this funding to work purchasing new equipment and technology for our ongoing training. Mr. Sarai’s assistant, Arun Gill,  also spoke to us about a cluster funding initiative aimed toward training that entails an aspect of Virtual Reality training. We are very interested in this initiative as one of our wish list items is a new VR Spray Painting device.

We look forward to hosting more politicians at the FTI who share our enthusiasm for training the best trades people in the country. We are proud of our facility and the work we do here and we are gratified when others share our passion for training like our Member of Parliament Randeep Sarai.

FTI Announces ITA Changes to the Wall & Ceiling Apprenticeship Program

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To all Wall & Ceiling Contractors and Wall & Ceiling Installer Apprentices

Please be advised that we have been asked by the ITA (Industry Training Authority) to inform you of the recent change that has taken place with the Wall & Ceiling Installer apprenticeship program.

Effective September 2018 the apprenticeship schooling component of the training is being moved from the existing 4 Module program to a 3 Level program to bring the training model into line with every other apprenticeship program in the province.

In order to accommodate this change the FTI will be cancelling the previously scheduled Module A/B class scheduled to start May 14, 2018 and running a Module C/D program in its place. This will be the last Module C/D class that will take place prior to switching to the new arrangement.

We recommend that all apprentices who have taken the Module A/B training but have yet to take their Module C/D course, register for this course as it could be problematic if you get caught between the two systems before completing your technical training. We ask all contractors to encourage any of their apprentices in this situation to register for this course.

The requirement for the hours based portion has also been adjusted but it’s the schooling portion of the training that is the only piece that needs to be dealt with immediately.

Old System New System
Module A – 4 Weeks Level 1 – 6 Weeks
Module B – 2 Weeks Level 2 – 6 Weeks
Module C – 4 Weeks Level 3 – 6 Weeks
Module D – 2 Weeks
Hours Worked – 4500 Hours Worked 6000


 All new apprentices will receive in-school instruction under the new system. We will be scheduling a September class to commence the Levels structure of training then. We strongly support this change and feel that both Contractors and apprentices will be better served by this new approach. We encourage everyone to join with us in cooperation so that this new system helps us all develop better skilled, Red Seal Wall & Ceiling Installers.

Steward Baird

Wall & Ceiling Instructor / Coordinator

FTI

 

FTI Wall & Ceiling Apprentices Excel at Skills BC Competition

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Once again the FTI had another successful result at the recent Skills BC Wall & Ceiling competition. Apprentice Kristian Anderson captured a gold medal while apprentices Matt Catonio and Joel Stodola walked away with a silver medal each.

The Judges agreed that this year’s competition was the closest they had seen in the six years that the Wall & Ceiling has been a part of this prestigious display of craft skills. It came down to a half mark in the end between first and second place in a display of expertise that impressed everyone involved. What is even more remarkable, is the fact that in the previous 5 years, no team had entirely completed the assigned project in the time allotted, while this year’s teams all completed the job with time to spare. All this goes to show just what a remarkable performance was turned in by all of the apprentices involved.

The entire FTI Wall and Ceiling class attended as well to cheer on their classmates and to volunteer their time informing some of the over 5000 school aged attendees at the competition about the rewards of an apprenticeship. They also took turns taking some of the kids up in a scissor lift for a birds eye view of the event.

The FTI plans to be back at this competition again next year and in fact we are exploring the opportunity to include our Painters and Glaziers in this event. Congratulations once again to Kristian Anderson, Matt Catonio and Joel Stodola on a job well done.