WATT: Workplace Alternative Trades Training
The Workplace Alternative Trades Training or “WATT” Program 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. Electrical contractors also saw 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’s Skilled Trades Awareness and Readiness Program and aims to increase accessibility to electrical apprenticeships and reduce barriers for Youth, Women, Indigenous, 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.
Start your career in Electrical with WATT! The WATT program will give you the hands-on, employer-verified electrical training you need for a successful start to your career. Note: The program includes a 2-week part-time online safety and industry readiness module which is a pre-requisite for WATT eligibility.
How it works:
- Applicants will be pre-screened for eligibility.
- Eligible candidates will be interviewed and presented to a selection committee.
- You may be offered an upcoming spot in the 2-week part-time online safety and industry readiness course ‘Pre-WATT’
- Participants who have successfully completed the online course will be interviewed by a representative from the IBEW.
- Selected candidates will be notified of upcoming in-person WATT Training sessions, which are scheduled 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
- 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 18 years-old
- 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.)
- 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 many sites where it is required by the client. Candidates with proof of vacination will therefore take priority. This policy will be reviewed as required and this page will be updated accordingly. Please indicate in your application if you wish to be notified when the requirement is removed.)
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.
Applications are being taken and cohorts are running on an as-needed basis in accordance with labour market need. Modified training activities follow safety precautions as recommended by the BCCDC.
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.
What happens after I contact you?
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.
What should I bring to my intake?
- A Picture ID (preferably a driver’s license)
- Provincial or Federal Proof of Vaccination (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
How do you decide if I get accepted?
The WATT application process is a competitive one. Once you have had an intake your application will be reviewed by a committee to determine acceptance. 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.
How will I know if I am accepted?
You will be contacted regarding your acceptance approximately 2-3 weeks before the in-shop WATT course start date.
What does it take to successfully complete the program?
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, you will submit your Apprenticeship Application to the IBEW to become a sponsored apprentice.
How do I become a sponsored apprentice?
Upon successful completion of the instructional portion of the program, graduates are registered with the ITA and their local college for levels 1-4 and 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.
How to Apply
WATT apprentices qualify for up to a 50% wage subsidy for 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.