New law undermines trades training

Legislation tabled last week by the B.C. Liberals will downgrade compulsory trades enforcement, and gives a new training authority the ability to break up existing trades into piecemeal, task specific credentials.

And that’s not good for workers, consumers or the health care system, says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. “From residential construction to the complex tasks associated with hospital maintenance, the public benefits from a trades training system that is comprehensive, properly monitored and accessible. It’s about consumer protection and public safety.

“For workers, task-based credentials limit mobility and will entrench low wages,” adds Allnutt.

B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair says the new Industry Training and Apprenticeship Act demonstrates that the government still doesn’t have a clear plan on how to increase skills training.

“We had a properly funded network of 16 offices and a staff of about 120 counselors, trainers and trades curriculum specialists to make sure that 16,000 apprentices were taking the right courses at the right time,” said Sinclair.

“Now we have one office, a staff of about 20 and some 1-800 numbers to register, counsel and oversee trades training and skills development in BC”, added Sinclair.  “That’s not moving forward, that’s making it tougher on apprentices and, ultimately, undercutting the skill in our workforce,” Sinclair added.

Sinclair was also concerned about the structure of the new Training Authority Board.  “We have very serious concerns about the balance on the new Board.  If the Board is dominated by employers, it will lose credibility very quickly.  We need a balance from labour and employers when it comes to trades training and skills development,” he said.