Kamloops Chamber of Commerce signed a partnership agreement Friday with the Industry Training Authority (ITA), the first of its kind in B.C. to encourage small and medium-sized businesses to sponsor apprentices.
The partnership offers mutual advantage. The chamber will work to increase involvement in apprentice sponsorships for the ITA while boosting its membership through engagement with businesses.
“This is a great marriage,” said Health Minister and MLA Terry Lake. “We know that small and medium-sized businesses, many of which are chamber members, make up a huge portion of the economy.
“We’re at a tipping point where there are more people leaving the workforce than there are people coming in.”
The new partnership is part of an effort to establish stronger partnerships with industry in keeping with the goals set by the province’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint. Funding for the partnership comes from the Canada-B.C. Labour Market Development Agreement.
Sponsoring and training apprentices is integral to strengthening B.C.’s trades community, enabling the province to respond effectively to an increase in demand for skilled trades people.
“There couldn’t be a more crucial time than now to sponsor and apprentice,” said Gary Herman, CEO of ITA.
Currently, about 500 employers in the Kamloops area sponsor roughly 2,000 apprentices, he noted.
Ten percent of chamber members already sponsor apprentices, said Steve Earl, chamber president. The chamber currently has more than 850 members.
“Of course, we want to continue to see those numbers grow and I’m sure they will,” Earl said. “This is very much the beginning of the process. The hard work lies in front of us and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
“The participation between stakeholders is really important,” Lake said. “This is the first. It shows the leadership here in Kamloops with the chamber of commerce.”