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Specialized training programs assist newcomers


After juggling school, work and family life, Bikash Thapa says he found better balance in his pursuit of becoming an electrician, thanks to Immigrant in Trades Training (ITT), an initiative of the Industry Training Authority (ITA).


ITT is helping skilled new Canadians who are unemployed, or employed and low-skilled, overcome barriers to entering the trades. It is transforming minimum-wage earners into well-paid skilled workers. ITT has also improved the quality of life for these newcomers, their families, and the communities they live in. The program is funded through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Agreement (LMA) and is overseen by ITA.


Thapa, who was born in Nepal, had worked as a handyman, but dreamed of becoming an electrician. Wiring and working with his hands appealed to him most, but to realize his goal he had to balance full-time studies at BCIT’s Electrical Foundation Program, while trying to support his family on a part-time, low-paying job.


“It was tough for me because I was only earning minimum wage,” says the Vancouver resident of his challenges in building a new life here for himself and his family.


Once the foundation program was completed, Thapa needed to quickly find entry-level work in his field. Due to the efforts of ITT's service provider – the B.C. Construction Association and its initiative, the Skilled Trades Employment Program (STEP) – Thapa was successfully placed as an electrical apprentice at Coquitlam’s Allwest Electric.


“ITT helped me get qualified and find a good job. I love what I do. I have a house and I can support my family,” he says.


Thapa is now focused on completing his apprenticeship through to Red Seal Certification. His long-term goal is to start his own electrical business.


In total, more than 1,300 skilled new Canadians have completed training or introductory training courses through ITT since it was first launched in 2008.


Programs provide skilled newcomers with hands-on experience, financial assistance, safety training, English courses, and career counselling to help them become valuable, well-rounded employees. 

Posted: Jul 3, 2013

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