A cash incentive available to British Columbia construction companies for hiring new workers doubles if a worker “self-identifies” as anything other than an able-bodied, heterosexual, white male.

On Wednesday, the British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) announced a new $10 million Apprenticeship Services Program that will give cash incentives to small and medium scale construction companies that hire and register first year apprentices for 39 Red Seal Trades. 

The per-employee incentive is $5,000, but if an applicant self-identifies as a person of colour, woman, sexual minority, or person with a disability, it doubles to $10,000, according to the Western Investor.

According to the BCCA, over half of the apprentices already hired have self-identified as a member of one of the “equity deserving groups.”

Funding for the BCCA’s new program will come from the federal government’s Canadian Apprenticeship Strategy, launched by the federal government in September 2022.

The BBCA is calling the new program the ”most far-reaching construction trade apprenticeship drive ever undertaken in British Columbia.” 

“The Apprenticeship Services project has become one of the most successful workforce development programs the BCCA has ever launched,” said Chris Atchison, president of the BCCA. “The timing of this initiative couldn’t be better. Our industry is hungry for skilled workers.”

Each employer is allowed to register two first-year apprentices before March 31, 2024. 

The BCCA noted that while 35 different Real Seal trades have now hired new apprentices, the majority are registered as first-year carpenters, plumbers and construction electricians. 

Canada’s construction industry will need to recruit 299,200 new employees by 2032 in order to replace those expected to retire by the end of the decade, according to predictions made by BuildForce Canada. They estimate 245,100 construction workers, about 20% of the current labour force, will retire in that timeframe.