BURNABY, B.C. – The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association says the NDP skilled trades certification program will make it more difficult to get into the trades.

The program, announced Friday, will do nothing to address two problems apprentices and contractors face, says the ICBA. One issue is the lack of training spaces available, the other is long waitlists to get into classes.

“There are too few trades schools. For many trades, there is only one school in the entire province serving nearly 250,000 workers,” says ICBA President Chris Gardner. “Compounding the challenge are waitlists at many schools of at least a year, and sometimes up to three years.”

Data from a 2013 study by the C.D. Howe Institute found provinces with imposed restrictions on entry into the trades have 44 per cent fewer workers in the trades than those provinces without a skilled trade certification requirement.

“The industry long ago recognized the multiple pathways a worker takes to acquire skills to become a ticketed tradesperson or to pursue other career aspirations. The evidence shows that compulsory trades do not result in more people completing an apprenticeship.”

Gardner says if the province wants more people to get into the trades, more seats at training schools should be added, and the curriculum should be modernized and delivered more efficiently.

“Governments should not be dictating to contractors how many ticketed tradespeople should be working with apprentices. It’s a level of bureaucracy that adds cost and complexity, and it creates confusion.”

Coming back from the COVID-19 pandemic, Gardner believes now is the time to bring people together to rebuild the economy.

“Limiting discussion and dialogue and rushing programs out the door will only serve to set us back, not move us forward.”

The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association represents more than 3,300 members and clients in construction and responsible resource development. It trains more than 5,000 workers every year, and it is the single largest sponsor of trades apprentices in British Columbia.