President’s View by Phil Venoit

Phil Venoit - BC’s Building Trades President

Phil Venoit, IBEW Local 230, RSE

The Red Seal Program was established following the first National Conference on Apprenticeship in Trades and Industries in Ottawa in 1952 and first certificates were issued seven years later. Construction craft workers who pass their Red Seal trades exam receive a Red Seal endorsement on their provincial or territorial trade certificate. The Red Seal indicates that a tradesperson has demonstrated the knowledge required for the national standard in their trade. The endorsement sends a message of excellence to employers, instills pride in skilled workers and facilitates labour mobility. It’s an economic solution for getting major projects built on time and on budget regardless of where in the country projects are built.

Compulsory certification applies to trades in which journeypersons are required to have Red Seal certification and apprentices must be registered with their provincial training authority.

In the past, B.C. had as many as 11 compulsory trades. Today we have none, as the B.C. Liberals got confused back in 2002 between “Red Seal” and “Red Tape” and, like a bull on Red Bull in a muleta store, gutted it all.

So now, the companies winning contracts to work on your high-rise elevator, the gas feeding your home appliances, your kid’s school roof and your hospital’s emergency lighting and even sending out that loaded cement truck coming up behind you at the next red light, may be dispatching people who are not properly trained or qualified.

Members of the building trades are responsible for constructing and maintaining systems in the industrial plants, commercial and institutional facilities, residential dwellings, government buildings and energy and transportation infrastructure that make up the North American landscape. Standards need to be re-established and enforced. We’ve seen the disaster news stories where mistakes and poor quality work have resulted in human casualties and destruction of the environment.

However, unionized construction contractors follow the apprenticeship programs and training processes for Red Seal endorsement and compulsory certification. And the benefits are numerous and undeniable.

Certifiable training protects workers’ and the public’s safety and leads to reduced liability and liability insurance costs, increased public and consumer confidence and satisfaction and quality construction. It even saves clients’ money in the long run because it protects project owners and taxpayers from costly deficiencies and accidents and brings greater predictability to estimates. It’s better for communities, too, because it provides justifiably higher wages and greater job security and good companies that build their reputations on quality work.

Getting it done right the first time is what happens when you have compulsory certification.

In 2015, the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) announced the official recognition of the RSE (Red Seal Endorsement) for qualified skilled journeypersons.

Skilled trades professionals who display the RSE designation let other tradespeople, the construction industry and the public know that they have the proper credentials while raising awareness of and promoting the Red Seal Program.

If you earned it, remember to use it!