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Buildex Blog: How to attract, train and retain a skilled workforce

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by JOC News Service

Gary Herman, the CEO of the Industry Training Authority of British Columbia (ITA BC), spoke at the "How to attract, train and retain a skilled workforce" session at Buildex Vancouver on Feb. 15.
Buildex Blog: How to attract, train and retain a skilled workforce

Over the next decade, Herman said, there will be over one million job openings in B.C. 123,000 of those will be for trades occupations, and he majority of those trades will require apprenticeship training. Many of these trades are in construction and many that aren't directly related, such as machinists, have some ties to construction.

Sponsoring an apprentice benefits employers in that it meets demand, gives a financial advantage, aids in succession planning and "creates pride in the next generation," Herman said.

Apprenticeship also diversifies your workforce, Herman said, because the larger your pool of qualified candidates, the better chance an employer has of finding the right people with the right skills at the right time. His encourages consistent hiring practices, he said, which "builds a loyal and dedicated workforce."

To retain apprentices, a safe and welcoming workforce is needed as are adaptable communication styles. Consistent job expectations, check-in and follow-up are also important, Herman said.

"Once you get your ticket, the opportunities are unlimited," Herman said, citing starting one's own company, going into senior management or specializing in a skilled trade.

The ITA has a Champions of Apprenticeship program which highlights employers who make an effort to take on apprentices, Herman said, which is an area of training that isn't normally focused upon.

Herman also pointed towards innovative practices in the trades, such as flexible delivery, partnerships, student supports and regional access.

The Southern Interior Construction Association, for instance, incorporates work experience in to training, with students matched with employers with an option to continue past their training.

BC Hydro, Herman said, has partnered with the College of New Caledonia to deliver online learning on electrical training.

The ITA, Herman said, has also fostered industry engagement with 11 sector advisory groups and a team of industry relations specialists, including two for construction and one for construction associations, as "they have somewhat differing views regarding apprenticeship."

ITA also has industry relations managers, who work to "get the pulse of what's happening around the province in various sectors," Herman said, and also publishes a guide on employing women in the trades, as well as a best practices guide for attracting employing and retaining aboriginal people in the trades.

There is also an apprentice job match tool at itabc.ca/jobmatch, which Herman termed as a "eHarmony for apprentices" where employers and potential apprentices can connect.

Key take aways on apprentices are that BC is poised to leverage opportunities in skilled trades, and the ITA is working to engage he industry and create a responsive skilled trades raining system, he added.
"Take advantage of the benefits of sponsoring apprentices to help grow your business, and use best practices and ITA tools and resources to help you attract, train and retain apprentices," Herman said.

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