Trading up 

B.C.'s trades are booming and offer a good career path for many

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - TRADING UP B.C. apprentices like Liam Casey spend about 80 per cent of their time in the classroom and the rest on site.
  • Photo submitted
  • TRADING UP B.C. apprentices like Liam Casey spend about 80 per cent of their time in the classroom and the rest on site.

It's apprenticeship recognition week. A time to — according to missive from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skill and Training — "high five an apprentice."

And why not?

For many young people, careers in the trades translate into good careers.

"It's great, you can build a project and see the end result and feel good about what you've done," explained Liam Casey, a 28-year-old carpenter who is on the verge of obtaining his Red Seal endorsement, a nationally recognized designation.

In B.C., apprentices spend around 20 per cent of their time in the classroom and 80 per cent of their time on the job.

Following a series of exams, graduates become a "ticketed" tradesperson.

"The knowledge you get from school is way more than you'd get just from carpenters on site," said Casey.

"It bumps you up the ladder a lot faster."

For Casey, who moved to Whistler in 2015 and is already taking on management roles, carpentry provided a good alternative to the office work.

"Every day changes. There's no two days the same," he said.

"If you're not suited for the office, it's more hands on."

RDC Fine Homes, a Whistler building and renovation company, currently has 11 apprentices.

"We sometimes will sponsor an apprentice to start their first year. Other times, we take over a sponsorship," explained Bob Deeks, president of RDC Fine Homes.

Apprentices can make good money, he added. RDC apprentices make $20 or more, depending on experience. While an experienced "ticketed" carpenter can make in the $70-80,000 a year range.

As an employer, Deeks said it makes sense to take on apprentices: They're well trained and serious about their work.

"It shows a commitment to a career in the trades," he said.

Plus the nature of the relationships — in which employees "sponsor" apprentices — engenders loyalty, something that's handy in a job market with as much "movement" as Whistler's.

Deeks also highlights the important safety training apprentices receive.

They're coming to us "with an appreciation of safety in construction," he said adding that RDC seeks to give apprentices work that pushes them.

"We try to make sure they're performing tasks that are aligned with the learning outcomes of the training," he said.

The economy is moving in Whistler, explained Deeks, noting that there is plenty of opportunity for hard-working people who want to get into the trades.

"We would love to have four or five more employees on any given day," he said.

"We're seeing a severe shortage of skilled trades."

There are currently over 450 registered apprentices and 175 sponsors in Whistler, said Shannon Hansen, an advisor with the Industry Training Authority, a provincial body that administers over 100 apprenticeship-training programs

Getting "ticketed" is a good investment in your future, said Hansen.

"There's good money to be made in the trades... We have a good quality training system (in B.C.)."

For information on the "perfect trade for you" visit ITA's website:


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