BCIT launches new microcredential program pilot

BCIT is launching a pilot for an Entry Skills for Architectural, Construction, and Engineering Fields (ACE) Microcredential program.

Photo credit: BCIT

The British Columbia Institute of Technology’s (BCIT) is launching a pilot for an Entry Skills for Architectural, Construction, and Engineering Fields (ACE) Microcredential program, which aims to facilitate the entry of high school students from British Columbia into professions within the fields of architecture, construction, and engineering.

The BCIT ACE Microcredential is a tailored adaptation of PlanBEE, an apprenticeship initiative from the United Kingdom. PlanBEE was conceived in 2016 through a collaborative effort between Gateshead College and Ryder Architecture, a firm with locations in the UK, Vancouver, Amsterdam, and Hong Kong. Ryder Architecture introduced PlanBEE to BCIT, and it served as the blueprint for ACE.

The ACE program is crafted to mirror the workforce requirements of British Columbia, with the aim of enticing recent high school graduates to explore career prospects in architecture, construction, and engineering. Canada is grappling with a significant shortage of construction labor, leading to unpredictable cost escalations and project delays. This labor deficit affects various stakeholders, including consumers seeking affordable housing options and professionals like architects who must navigate projects within the constraints of the current economic landscape.

Moreover, the construction sector urgently requires innovation to mitigate the effects of climate change and curtail carbon emissions from buildings.

To date, PlanBEE has facilitated over 500 industry placements. In British Columbia, the ACE microcredential offers a one-year paid work-integrated learning (WIL) experience within the construction industry, along with the opportunity to pursue further post-secondary education.

ACE supports employers by combining academic learning with two six-month paid internships. By reducing financial barriers and time commitments, ACE expedites students’ exploration of careers in architecture, construction, and engineering. This program also marks BCIT’s first microcredential program to offer high school students immersive learning opportunities, site visits, and valuable industry insights.

“BCIT is excited to be spearheading this unique initiative that offers motivated high school students a deeper understanding about career opportunities in Architecture, Construction, and Engineering,” says Wayne Hand, Dean, School of Construction and the Environment at BCIT. “Access to paid industry work placements provide young learners the insight, experience, and connections needed to make informed decisions about their career and education pathways while giving industry partners the opportunity to attract young people to their vibrant sectors.”

The Vancouver program entails a collaborative effort between UK and Canadian employer sponsors and colleges, fostering the exchange of best practices and industry-specific knowledge. This exchange covers specialized topics such as net-zero design, adaptive re-use, modular construction, and mass-timber design. The program envisions connecting UK and Canadian students to facilitate shared learning initiatives once it begins.