Corry Anderson-Fennell Director of Communications

Corry Anderson-Fennell Director of Communications

February 14, 2022

REMEMBER WHEN Bob Seger played in Vancouver in 1996? Not many people do. It was for an album that didn’t do all that well, and when it was over, Seger basically wasn’t seen again until 2006.

I went to that concert though. I bought two tickets as a birthday gift for my partner, and we planned to make a night of it with dinner and some old time rock and roll. And then, two days before the concert, I learned what a trades apprenticeship was and why my partner needed to stay home and study for his third-year electrical exam and why I needed to find another date.

Hmmph! How hard could it be? He tossed over his textbook and I flipped through the pages, recoiling:










A point was made.

A couple of years later, the “Red Seal” entered my lexicon, but by then I was smart enough not to buy event tickets in the week leading up to the test.

An apprentice sheet metal worker once described the Red Seal to me as her holy grail – a pithy and startlingly perfect assessment. Oxford defines a holy grail as something that is being “earnestly pursued.” Is there a more earnest pursuit than spending your education building the structures in which British Columbian families live, work and play, or the roads and bridges that connect them?

A trades apprenticeship is typically four years of on-the-job training punctuated by 10 weeks in the classroom every year learning the technical and theoretical aspects of the trade. Hours and competencies are meticulously calculated until the apprentice has the prerequisites to write their Red Seal exam. The hours an apprentice must work between each level of apprenticeship are prescribed, so if an apprentice takes time off or endures periods of unemployment, their apprenticeship will take longer. It will also take longer if the apprentice writes each level more than once. Needless to say, Red Seal certification isn’t handed out like pre-COVID candy – it’s achieved through hard work and commitment to the profession.

And that’s where the brand new College of the BC Building Trades comes in – to help apprentices every step of the way.

We’ve long known that our training schools are the best-kept secret in our industry. They offer low- to no-cost tuition, wraparound supports throughout apprenticeship, instructors with industry experience and job placements with our signatory contractors. And we know our schools do a whole lot more than this, as every apprentice who has gone through a program will attest.

Now, through the College of the BC Building Trades, tomorrow’s skilled tradespeople can go to a single website to explore all our trades, decide which one is right for them, learn the competencies they’ll need in order to pursue their apprenticeship, download resources, enroll in preparatory courses, take practice tests, and ultimately connect directly with their school and specific program.

The College of the BC Building Trades is explained in greater detail throughout this edition of Tradetalk. Many people spent many years working on this project, and so we hope you will be suitably impressed with the results and pass these pages on to a future tradesperson in your life.

Let’s start sharing the secret!

Visit to learn more.

By Corry Anderson-Fennell
Director of Communications