Workplace Alternative Trades Training (WATT)

So, you’re interested in pursuing a career in the electrical field? Perhaps the Workplace Alternative Trades Training Program (WATT) is a good option for you!

WATT is an employer-verified, demand-driven, Electrical Pre-Apprenticeship Training program designed to remove apprenticeship barriers and increase completion rates among under-represented groups in the skilled trades.

Traditional pathways to apprenticeship are inaccessible to many, whether due to financial strain or prerequisite requirements. To meet unprecedented labour market demand, the IBEW, Western Jets Training Society (WJETS), and the Construction Foundation of BC came together and created WATT: a lower barrier, hands-on training program resulting in the ability to skip a Foundations Program, become an IBEW-sponsored apprentice and immediately enter into employment to get real experience as an electrical apprentice before starting level 1 of their technical training.

This fast-track pathway to a career in the Electrical Trade is best suited to people who work well under pressure, learn quickly and are highly motivated. Logical thinkers who are comfortable learning from their mistakes will do well.

The minimum requirements to participate in WATT include:

Preferred qualifications and skills (leading to higher ranking) include:

The main assessment criterion is "apprenticeship readiness". You will need to understand that not having a valid drivers license or access to a reliable vehicle will severely limit your employment options. Applicants are ranked on their apprenticeship readiness and not having a vehicle/license will certainly impact your position on the list.

Construction work can be quite inconsistent. Depending on where you live, and what trade you work in, there may be sustained demand or unpredictable and periodic demand for your skillset. Currently IBEW Contractors are looking for new apprentices in the Active Dispatch Region(s):

WATT has a 96% apprenticeship continuation rate because we set people up for success. You will only be invited to attend in-shop training if:

  1. WATT Candidates are chosen when and where new apprentices are needed most. To be considered for training, we must determine if WATT is the right pathway for you. There are several steps to this process: The first step is an instructor-led practical assessment where you will be asked to wire up a circuit containing multiple switches, plugs, and a light. Note: you are not expected to walk in having electrical knowledge or experience. You are expected to:
  2. The pace of this assessment is quite quick, and keeping up will demonstrate that you will be able to learn at the pace required in this fast-track course.

  3. The second assessment is an academic assessment (English Reading Comprehension and Algebra). NOTE: In some cases, the academic assessment may be delayed due to scheduling constraints.

    These steps are not graded as pass/fail but instead help the WATT team better understand where you may have academic gaps or challenges and how we can support you through your learning as a low-term electrical apprentice. Sometimes participants need a little help before starting the program, or if they are able and committed to brushing up their skills, we can arrange for academic support while in apprenticeship.

The WATT team will make notes on your readiness for apprenticeship and individual circumstances. Your application will be ranked and you may be asked to participate in an interview.

WATT Interview

The top ranked applicants who meet the current selection criteria (location, apprenticeship readiness & demographics related to funding constraints) will be invited to participate in an interview with the Construction Foundation of BC.

Due to the volume of applications received, kindly note that candidates will only be contacted when there is an opportunity to proceed in the selection process.

Those who do not meet the current selection criteria (or maybe need a little more time to succeed) will remain on the list for consideration for participation in future cohorts. Unfortunately, there will be no opportunity to be reassessed for higher ranking.

WATT Online Pre-Requisite (2 weeks – Part-Time)

If you complete the practical assessment and interview, are recommended for the program, and you wish to proceed, you will be registered for the Pre-WATT online learning module. This is a two-week pre-requisite course where you will learn more about the program and expectations, some basic electrical theory, develop some tool literacy, and complete several safety certifications. In total, this online course is approximately 3-4 full days’ work which can typically be completed by dedicating a few hours each day over the two-week period, plus perhaps a couple weekend days.

NOTE: Registration in the online pre-requisite course is not a guarantee for selection for the in-shop training. Candidates must consider this step as part of their interview process and successfully complete the online course. More candidates will be selected for the online training than there are seats available in the program. Successfully completing this course within the specified period will increase likelihood of your selection, but the final decision will not be made until 2 weeks before the next available in-shop training, taking all relevant factors into consideration. Those who are not selected from the online course, but who have successfully completed the requirements, will be considered for future cohorts.

WATT In-Shop Training (2.5 Weeks – Full-Time)

After completing the online learning module, in-shop training is the next step. This is scheduled in accordance with labour market demand. Once there is demand for new apprentices in your area, WATT Program staff will select from those who have successfully completed the online learning module to participate in a full-time, 2 ½ week in-person training program designed to prepare you for beginning your new career with the IBEW.

Upon successful completion of the in-shop training, you will apply for membership and be classified as a ‘Permit’ with the IBEW, which means you’re ready for dispatch as a “pre-apprentice”. Your name will go on the dispatch list and you will be eligible to work for a union signatory contractor.

The wait time for dispatch can depend on location and unforeseen changes in market demand, so although not common, it is always a good idea to have a plan B--be prepared to sit on the dispatch list for a couple of months awaiting your first dispatch.

The starting wage for a brand new “pre-apprentice” working on a commercial jobsite, is currently set at $23.39/hr. resulting in approximately $2400/month for the first 6 months of your apprenticeship. Apprentices are automatically bumped to the next pay rate (approximately 5% higher) after 6 months’ worked, in addition to scheduled wage increases.

Please note that the employment you will be dispatched to runs on a full-time schedule and, in turn, the IBEW requires that you have full-time availability and a reliable mode of transportation (including backup plans in case of inclement weather, etc.) when agreeing to a dispatch. As the beginning of any apprenticeship is a highly labour-intensive experience, please be aware that there may be some physical discomfort and a sharp learning curve when transitioning into this line of work.

Paying dues is like paying premiums on an insurance policy – where you don’t have to die to have it pay off. You collect the benefits everyday of your working life.

Unions are a voice

Job Security



Solid Benefits

Accessible, High-Quality Training 

Better Pay

Thanks to the generous funding of our partners, the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia (SkilledTradesBC), 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 $23.39/h as of January 2024  (other rates, higher or lower, may apply depending on availability and type of work in your area). As per the Inside Electrical Workers Collective Agreement, this rate is scheduled to go up 9% over the next 2 years, in addition to the ~5% raise every 6 months worked that apprentices enjoy over and above the scheduled wage increases. The Journeyperson rate on Commercial Electrical sites is currently $46.78 (January 2024) so you can count on making over $115,000 year after 4 years (Gross, including extended medical benefits and RRSP/Pension contributions). 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.

If you are fascinated by the growing field of electrical employment and the WATT program sounds like a good fit for you, please follow the four steps below to apply! Thank you for your interest in the WATT program! We hope to hear from you soon.

  1. To apply for WATT, you must first read and agree to the WJETS Terms of Service Agreement.

    Collection, Use and Disclosure Notice

    As part of your participation in WJETS activities or services, personal information and data will be collected from you including but not limited to the information indicated above as well as contact, demographic and work history information.

    All personal information gathered at Intake, Assessment or through Training and other information related to your participation in WJETS programs (“Personal Information”) is collected pursuant to sections 26(c), 26(e), and 27(1)(a)(i) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. This information will be used for administrative, evaluation, program development, and /or research purposes, including to determine your eligibility for participation in the program.

    Demographic and participation information related to program activities may be disclosed to the Province of British Columbia or the Government of Canada for the purposes of program administration, evaluation, and reporting.

    Click the button below to confirm (NOTE: If you are under the age of 18, you will not be able to agree to the WJETS Terms of Service Agreement. Please email for more information):

  2. Create an online learning account on Western Jets Training Society ’s online learning platform, Moodle (or log in if you already have an account).

  3. Enroll yourself in the course called WATT Application by clicking the Self enrolment icon:

  4. Complete and submit the online WATT Participant Intake form. You will receive an email response from program staff with next steps. If you are eligible for the program you will be invited to attend a practical assessment.
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