Information for Prospective Trainees

Play Video John Beckett - Vice President - Training, Safety & Recruitment
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Please note – if you are not currently a longshoreman, please click here for information on recruitment.

Moving goods from shore to ship is unique in its demands on workers.

To keep employees safe and up-to-date on the latest equipment used on the waterfront, the BCMEA spends from 4 to 6 million dollars each year on training. Upwards of 900 people each year are trained on 36 different rated positions. Within those 36 positions, there are 9 variations.

The following information is meant to help prospective trainees understand how the training department works.  Please note that if you are not currently a longshoreman, please click here for information on recruitment. 

Candidate Considerations

The BCMEA offers training in almost every aspect of waterfront work, offering longshore workers the opportunity to increase their skill level and rate of pay by adding new abilities to their ratings set.

Longshore work can be divided in basic sectors such as container, bulk, or break bulk. Some workers prefer working at container terminals, while other prefer bulk or break bulk sites. Although workers are not prohibited from training in multiple sectors, it is more efficient for workers to focus on training in skills in their preferred sector.

Before applying for training, candidates should consider the various working conditions and job demands of each rating. For example, workers with severe allergies or asthma might have difficulty tolerating dusty conditions, others might not be suitable for the high-pressure production demands in a container terminal, or a worker may simply not be comfortable working at the height of a dock gantry crane.

Selection Process and Eligibility

Training opportunities are posted at the ILWU hall, and both ILWU members and casual workers may sign up for training. Applicants may apply for multiple programs in order of preference. The ILWU reviews these applications and forwards the results to the BCMEA, in seniority order.

The following factors are considered in the selection process:


Senior person as determined by the ILWU will be chosen first if all other conditions are met.


Training is offered first for ratings that experience regular shortages or that are experiencing an increase in demand.


A lift truck or tractor trailer rating is a pre-requisite for any other heavy equipment training such as front end loader, bulldozer, etc. Consideration will be also given to a candidate's related experience. For example, a candidate with many hours as a labourer at a bulk site may be considered for bulk site-related training.


Some ratings require medical confirmation of healthy eyesight, hearing and full color vision.

Rating conflicts 

Workers are discouraged from requesting training for ratings that are lower in the order of dispatch than ratings that they already hold. Applicants will have a greater degree of success by applying for training ‘from the bottom up’  through the order of dispatch.


Candidates with outstanding disciplinary complaints at affected terminals will not be selected.

Yearly hours cap

Candidates who will exceed their yearly hours cap during the training period will not be selected.

Candidates may refuse training, if offered, in hopes of getting into a different program, but should be aware that they will only be offered entry into a program if space is available and they meet all eligibility requirements.

Transferable Skills and Previous Experience 

In some cases, workers with previous experience from outside the industry may be considered for skills evaluation and training/familiarization to achieve a new rating instead of completing a full training program. Workers who claim previous experience must provide satisfactory documentation (certificates or licenses, letter from previous employer) before being considered for skills evaluation.

Expectations and Penalties

Trainees must commit to training!

Some training programs may take many weeks to complete, typically during day shift. Many programs depend upon a constant trainer/trainee ratio to be efficient and cost effective. Candidates must be available for the duration of the program and defer any planned time-off, afternoon shift routine, or regular workforce application until training is completed. If one trainee is absent from a program for an extended period, training may be cancelled or deferred until the trainer/trainee ratio can be restored. Candidates must report on time daily.

Candidates who quit late in a program may risk future training opportunities!

We encourage candidates to ensure the job will suit by collecting as much information about the job as possible before applying for training, and most programs are designed to expose trainees to the job environment early on. If a candidate decides that the job is not suitable for them, they should notify the trainer as soon as possible.

Workers who do not service a rating regularly may risk future training opportunities!

Once training is complete, workers must make themselves available for the new work. This might include moving to the appropriate board or plugging in regularly for casual work. 

Medical Forms

In some cases, potential trainees may be required to provide sight and hearing evaluations demonstrating their capability to perform the duties involved. Copies of the required form can be downloaded here:

 Sight and Hearing Medical Form

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