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Industry Training Authority connects apprentices, employers

The Black Press Extreme Career and Education Fair will be in Cranbrook on Nov. 15

A “grey wave” is building, and with it, a potential tsunami of job openings on the horizon as a generation of employees near retirement.

Whether you’re looking to enter the job market, seeking a career change or an employer eager to fill those staffing gaps, the Black Press Extreme Career and Education Fair in Cranbrook on Nov. 15 is the first step to take.

READ MORE: Black Press career fair brings new opportunities to Kootenays

Marlin Ratch, an apprenticeship advisor for the Industry Training Authority, agreed there’s no better place to start.

“Career or employment fairs, like the one hosted by Black Press, are really good because the direction is two-fold,” Ratch said.

For job-seekers, advisors can help them plan and outline their future goals and how to achieve them. For employers, it’s a target-rich environment filled with people eager to work.

And, in a time of greater job openings, that’s where a service like ITA is more valuable than ever.

The “grey wave” is significant in all this, said Ratch.

“It used to be that a person would put out a job ad and find a person who was fully ticketed,” he said. “Now what’s tending to happen, and you see it more and more, is they’re putting out the job ad and looking for the fully ticketed person, the Red Seal person, journeyman or whatever the case may be, and they’re not finding it.

“We, as the apprenticeship authority, we’re out there advocating for apprenticeships and trying to make sure businesses are looking at the option of training.”

Companies can go out and recruit on their own, hire foreign workers and upgrade their credentials, or turn to a service like ITA.

ITA provides guidance for the employee through its foundation program. “Some refer to it as a pre-apprenticeship program. But they get the first level of certification and the technical training,” said Ratch.

And with service for nearly 100 trades ranging from electrician to hairdresser, the program is a perfect launching pad to a career.

“So when they start working as an apprentice, they’ve got their first year of technical training down,” said Ratch, adding, the hours will still be required.

“But we can point them in a direction. The person will have the basic skill set to be able to do it as a monitored activity. As opposed to [a company bringing] someone in off the street who has the basic tool sets but you have to teach them everything.”

For employers, they offer help on obtaining wage subsidies, help with the paperwork, responsibilities and what criteria should be completed through each step of the apprenticeship.

His advice for people attending the Black Press career fair is straightforward: Be curious.

“In a general sense, at any job or career fair, make sure you have a really good up-to-date resume. Talk to WorkBC with how to do that. So you have your background set up. Then come with questions.

“If you don’t know the answer, it’s not a stupid question. Ask the question and if we don’t have the answer, we’ll find the answer.”

The Black Press Extreme Career and Education Fair is coming to Cranbrook on Nov. 15 at the Ktunaxa Nations Building. For more information, go to the event’s Facebook page.

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