City of Vancouver pushes for use of apprentices

Savings offered to contractors utilizing apprentices for public works projects

In an effort to promote the development of a qualified workforce for the future, Vancouver created a pilot program encouraging the use of apprentices for its public works projects. The city began the pilot program in September 2004, which encourages contractors awarded public works construction projects estimated to cost at least $500,000 to use workers enrolled in approved apprenticeship training programs for up to 15 percent of labor hours.

"It’s an opportunity to help create a trained workforce for future construction projects," said Julianna Csonaki, Vancouver procurement services manager.

Minimum requirements are determined on a per-project basis. The city offers contractors $3 per labor hour performed by apprentices up to the maximum goal.

Originally scheduled to last one year, the pilot program has been extended indefinitely to allow several projects in the pipeline to be completed. The Esther Short Streetscape project is the only completed project to utilize the program thus far. The city requested the contractor use apprentices for 4 percent of the total hours. Hours worked by apprentices accounted for 10 percent of the total hours, or 1,347 hours. Contractors not meeting the minimum established requirement are penalized $1 for each unmet labor hour.

Csonaki said it was hard to measure the success of the program against one project, however, she said she has been pleased with the results.

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