WATT Pre-Apprenticeship

WATT: Workplace Alternative Trades Training

About WATT

The Workplace Alternative Trades Training or “WATT” Program was introduced in 2019 as a more efficient and effective pathway to electrical apprenticeship. WATT is a collaborative, innovative solution to pre-apprenticeship training that better prepares apprentices for careers in industry, giving apprentices the skills they really need to succeed. By reducing common barriers to apprenticeship, the program is building a more inclusive and highly-skilled workforce.


Take charge of your career in Electrical with WATT! The WATT program will give you the fast track, hands-on, employer-verified electrical training you need for a successful start to your career.

How it works:

  1. Applicants will be pre-screened for eligibility and some will be invited to participate in an assessment.
  2. Eligible candidates will be interviewed and presented to a selection committee.
  3. You may be offered an upcoming spot in the 2-week part-time online safety and industry readiness course ‘Pre-WATT’
  4. Participants who have successfully completed the online course may be interviewed by a representative from the IBEW.
  5. Selected candidates will be notified of upcoming in-person WATT Training sessions (Note: training dates are subject to change in accordance with labour market need.)

During your FREE WATT training you will:

  • Be certified in:
    • Occupational First Aid Level 1
    • Fall Protection
    • Mobile Elevated Work Platform
    • SiteReadyBC
    • Electrical Safety
    • Lock Out/Tag Out
  • Learn hands-on skills employers have identified as valuable on the work site.
  • Be provided with an Independent Learning Plan (ILP) and support in Essential Skills upgrading throughout your pre-apprenticeship to help you prepare for your Level 1 training.
  • Be provided with your basic tools and steel-toe boots required to start your career as an electrician.
  • Have access to additional supports as required.
  • Have basic living expenses and transportation covered if travelling for training.

After successfully completing WATT training you will:

  • Be recommended for sponsorship by the Union into a registered apprenticeship.
  • Be eligible for dispatch to a full-time paid work placement with an IBEW signatory electrical contractor.
  • Be provided with ongoing mentorship and support.


The minimum requirements to participate in WATT include:

  • Be a minimum of 17 years-old (some opportunities may be limited to those 18+ due to select General Contractor requirements)
  • Be a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Have a strong interest in becoming an electrician (successful candidates accept that they will be dispatched after training and will intend to progress into Level 1 training.)
  • Preferably hold a valid Drivers’ License (Class 5 or 7)
  • Be living and settled in an active dispatch region
  • Provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 (although not currently required to attend training, unvaccinated participants may not be eligible for employment on sites where it is required by the client. Please note: Those without proof of vaccination may experience dispatch delays or periods of unemployment in the event that requirements are put back in place.)


This program is free! Although participants will not be paid for training, limited financial supports are available to those with demonstrated financial need. Following training, unrelated temporary or casual employment is highly encouraged while waiting (sometimes up to two months) for dispatch to employment with an Electrical Contractor.

Training Dates

Applications are being taken continuously. Cohorts are running semi-monthly/on an as-needed basis, in accordance with labour market need.

Recruitment is currently focusing on Victoria (Capital Region) with assessments running monthly and training semi-monthly.

WATT Participant Testimonials

“The WATT program gave me an opportunity of a lifetime that got me on the jobsite the best and quickest way that I know of. It personally has changed my life in the right direction and I am very grateful for it.” – Luke R.

“I would never go back. I don’t regret it for a single day. I think it’s the most amazing decision I ever made. I can’t wait to see it through and actually get my ticket.”-Diana D.

“The different amount of work I’ve had the chance to do already feels great, I feel as though I’ve learned so much in a short period of time. Quite a few of the journeymen have mentioned to me how they wish all apprentices got to experience the different kind of work that I’ve seen.” -Mathew L.


Once you’ve decided you’d like to try the trade, this is the next most important consideration. Thanks to the generous funding of our partners and the Goverment of Canada, the program is free and there may even be certain financial supports available to help you cover some bills while you’re in training. But you will not be paid wages while you’re in training, and you will need to take 2.5 weeks off work to complete the in-shop portion. The nice thing about apprenticeships is that once you’re dispatched to an electrical contractor, you get paid to learn! IBEW apprentices on Commercial Jobs start at $20.59/h as of the May 28, 2023 Collective Agreement (other rates, higher or lower, may apply depending on availability and type of work in your area). This rate is scheduled to go up 11.5% over the next 3 years, in addition to the ~5% raise every 6 months worked that apprentices enjoy over and above the scheduled wage increases. The Commercial Journey Electrician rate, including Holiday & Stat pay as well as RRSPs is over $55/h so you can count on making over $110,000 year after 4 years. Most apprentices can even collect EI while in school and there are many financial supports in the form of Scholarships, Bursaries, Grants and Tax Incentives for apprentices that make apprenticeship very lucrative.

It’s true! WATT is a great opportunity. If you’re selected (and successfully complete the program), you will save you a lot of time and money and get you on your way to earning your Red Seal as soon as possible. After WATT, you get to skip the Foundations program, get your apprenticeship sponsorship and get paid to learn. After approximately one year working, you will complete 10 weeks of block level training (Construction Electrician Level 1) and continue alternating between work and school for the next 3 years.

Email your resume and a brief statement about yourself and why you’d like to become an electrician to: [email protected]

Once we receive your message, we will return your call/email within 2 business days. We will do a small phone interview and schedule an intake time. The intake process takes about 1 hour.

  • A Picture ID (preferably a driver’s license)
  • Provincial or Federal Proof of Vaccination if available (QR)
  • Proof of Citizenship (participants must be Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents)
  • A name and number for an emergency contact
  • A name and number for a reference
  • A copy of your resume

The WATT application process is a competitive one. After your intake, if you are eligible to participate, you will be notified of the next available ‘Gateway’ practical skills assessment and aptitude test. Candidates are chosen based on their performance in the workshop. Those who pass the practical assessment will be invited to complete the ‘Pre-WATT’ online course. You must successfully complete the online portion to be considered for the next in-shop training session. You will be notified two to three weeks before the start of the in-person WATT shop training course. If you are not accepted, further career counseling will be offered to you.

WJETS staff will invite you to complete the 2-week, part time, online Pre-WATT prerequisite course. Only candidates who have successfully completed the online coursework will be considered for in-shop training. The number of seats available to candidates in your region will vary in accordance with local labour market demand. You will be contacted by WJETS staff regarding your acceptance to in-shop training approximately 2-3 weeks before the WATT course start date.

Sometimes it takes a bit of flexibility and patience. Stay in contact with your Program Coordinator. Training is scheduled in accordance with local labour market demand but forecasts are not always accurate and delays are frequent in construction. Your best bet is to secure temporary work that you can return to after your 2.5 weeks in shop (if necessary). Many times dispatches (job opportunities with IBEW contractors) are lined up before you finish in-shop training so that you can start immediately upon graduation. Other times there could be a delay of anywhere between a week or even several months. Contractors often call requesting apprentices to start the very next day. Being immediately available and flexible will ensure you go to work ASAP. This is why it’s important to have a plan B for work that you don’t mind leaving on a moment’s notice to start your career as an electrician.

It is important that you treat this program like you would work. Being on time, reliable and ready to learn is vital to your success in the program. In addition, a positive attitude, willingness to help others and an aptitude and fitness for the work are all part of what makes a successful applicant. Once you’ve successfully completed the program and shown us you have what it takes to succeed, you will submit your Apprenticeship Application to the IBEW to become a sponsored apprentice.

Upon successful completion of the program, graduates are registered with SkilledTradesBC (formerly the ITA) and their local college for levels 1-4. Apprenticeship applications are forwarded to the IBEW for final consideration and eligibility for dispatch with a signatory contractor as a ‘permit’ before initiation with the union. Meanwhile, a program advisor tracks their success and provides guidance throughout their six-month Pre-App. WJETS provides each graduate with an Individual Learning Plan (ILP), access to online Essential Skills upgrading and tutoring to ensure they are being trained in the skills they need and prepared for their formal education.

Group Shot of 19-3 Cohort

How to Apply

To apply call: 1-250-940-3246 or email: [email protected] (include your resume, a bit about yourself, and why you want to become an electrician)


Some WATT apprentices qualify for up to a 50% wage subsidy for up to six months. Candidates are thoroughly screened for eligibility and are offered 4-5 weeks of practical training and assessment (2 weeks online and 2.5 weeks in-shop) prior to dispatch at the Pre-App 1 level. Training is adaptable in time and scope for specific dispatch requirements. For more information, or to hire a WATT apprentice, contact the dispatcher at your Local Union.

WATT is the most efficient and effective pathway to electrical apprenticeship. Prioritizing hands-on skills, attitude and work ethic, WATT ensures graduates have what they need to succeed. WATT is a collaboration between the Western Joint Electrical Training Society (Western JETS), IBEW Locals 230, 993 and 1003, and the Construction Foundation of British Columbia. In the face of the labour market skills shortage for electricians, Western JETS and the IBEW identified a need for accessible applied electrical skills training that would lead to employment. WATT was developed to fill that need. Signatory contractors also see the value in WATT and support participants through employment. WATT is designed specifically for individuals who can not easily access Electrical Foundations courses but have a desire to become an electrician. The program is funded in part by The Government of Canada under various funding streams including UTIP Innovation and the Canadian Apprenticeship Strategy, Women in Skilled Trades Program.

WATT aims to increase accessibility to electrical apprenticeships and reduce barriers for Youth, Marginalized Genders, Indigenous Peoples, and Newcomers to better support a skilled, inclusive, certified and productive electrical trades workforce by improving the efficiency and efficacy of pre-apprenticeship training provided.