Candace is an electrician in BC
Here’s how she did it
Candace Whitney is a proud Red Seal electrician at Seaspan Marine Corporation‘s Victoria shipyard. Candace’s journey into the trades has been unconventional, to say the least. Originally from Victoria, Candace lived in Kelowna for about nine years before moving back to Victoria four years ago. As a high school student, she had limited interest in the trades, let alone a career. “I had no idea what I wanted to do,” says Candace. “The trades are so hands-on and that’s how I learn – I need to touch, feel, and see how things work to understand them.”
“During my mid-20s I bounced around a lot; I worked in several industries. I worked in retail, I was a mountain bike coach and I even helped build circuit boards. I really just had jobs, but now I have a career, and that’s something I am thrilled about.”
At 26, Candace enrolled in SICA’s Construction Trades Training program. It was during this program that her passion for the trades started.
Construction Trades Training is a training program assisting those wishing to enter the construction industry. The Construction Trades Training is registered with the Private Career Training Institution Agency of British Columbia (PCTIA), and is hosted by the Southern Interior Construction Association (SICA).
A year after, Candace enrolled in Okanagan College‘s electrician apprenticeship program. It was only during her first semester that her passion for electrical blossomed. “I quickly realized how amazing electrical is, because it’s such a practical skill to have. My work is so detailed; it’s such a satisfying feeling knowing I can fix and repair just about anything electrical. For example, right now I am wiring my house and saving thousands of dollars.”
Candace completed her electrical apprenticeship with Horizon Electric Inc a Kelowna-based outfit. Apprenticeship programs generally take four years to complete; apprentices spend approximately 85 per cent of their time learning on the job, and the rest of the time is spent in classroom-based training. Apprentices work under journeymen who share their knowledge and experience in the trade in which they are certified.
Candace completed her Red Seal electrician apprenticeship in the spring of 2009 and quickly seized a job opportunity in Victoria helping to wire the expansion of the Royal Jubilee Hospital. Since then, she has been a full-time employee at Seaspan’s Victoria shipyard on a variety of projects, including ensuring heating equipment is working efficiently.
When asked about her experience as a woman in trades, Candace responded, “The tides are definitely turning. It’s so empowering – I don’t see myself as a minority anymore, and that feels awesome. There are great programs tailored for women now – just look at WITT, the resources are definitely available. ”
With over one million job openings expected in the next decade, and more than 100 skilled trades programs in BC, the opportunity is waiting to be seized. Candace is proof of what can be gained from entering the trades: “Now, more so than ever, the opportunity is huge for everyone, and I mean everyone. I was 27 when I started. If you want something badly enough the sky is the limit.”
How Candace’s story connects with the BC Jobs Plan:
- Candace’s story exemplifies the dynamic opportunities in the trades today.
- As part of BC’s Skills and Training Plan, BC has invested over $75 million for upgrading training facilities and equipment, ensuring the skilled workforce of the future has access to advanced technology and up-to-date equipment.
- Matching appropriate training with the needs of industry is important to continue BC’s economic growth. The ITA is doing just that – with multiple specialized trades training programs.