Project Update:

Back in 2022 we had the privilege of partnering with SkilledTradesBC to crack open the plumbing apprentice resource designed and developed for open education. The plumber trade is one of the top three trades in B.C. due to its number of registered apprentices. The move toward building an apprenticeship resource that would serve all stakeholders was a bold and noble decision. This year we had the privilege to manage the next step, developing Plumber Level 4.

A project like this would not be possible without the dedicated efforts of SkilledTradesBC, the Plumbing Articulation Committee with its Resource Development Sub-Committee, subject-matter experts, reviewers, and the open educational resources production team at BCcampus.

Of the six main components to this project, the authors have now completed three, and three will be completed in the next several months. These resources will reside with SkilledTradesBC but will have a CC-BY-SA-NC license, which means institutions will have the opportunity to practice the tenets and principles of having an open resource while maintaining the standards and expectations of SkilledTradesBC as the provincial training authority.

The project has been well served by many subject-matter experts from different institutions as well as a graphics department to help create and modify pictures, diagrams, and symbols. This approach was essential to raising the quality of the finished resource, broadening the teaching and learning aspects of the content, and showcasing some of the industry’s best suppliers.

This resource will undoubtedly be an excellent addition to the apprenticeship training resources for the plumber trade. We are confident that with its multiple use options, this resource will lower the financial burden on apprentices and showcase how open education can make a significant impact in trades and vocational education and training.

One honourable mention to include is the development of an audio resource for Plumber Level 1 apprentices. BCcampus was thrilled to partner with Paul Simpson, associate professor in piping trades at Thompson River University’s School of Trades and Technology. The goal was to create an audiobook/podcast format of the Plumber Level 1 content. That goal was accomplished, and the resource can be found both at the blog site and on iTunes [podcast]. Research is being done to determine the accessibility and effectiveness of this kind of resource for apprenticeship training. We look forward sharing that information with you in the future.

If you have questions or comments, please reach out to:

Tim Carson, RSE, MA
Provincial Trades Representative, Open Education

Updated October 4, 2023

About ZTC – Open Educational Resources for Trades

In April 2019, BCcampus received funding from the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills to create high-quality teaching and learning resources for trades instructors and students. The goal is to create Zero Textbook Costs (ZTC) programs in Trades training. ZTC programs enable students, including apprentices to earn credentials without incurring costs for textbooks.

The scope of the project is to develop freely available, openly licensed resources including textbooks, test banks, homework assignments, and other ancillary resources to replace costly commercial educational resources.

The project will focus on four cornerstones:

  1. Build Relationships –Building relationships in and around this project with as many stakeholders as possible is not only necessary, it will prove to be essential. One major key with this cornerstone is longevity.
  2. Uphold Values – the focus of this cornerstone is to uphold the values and commitments of BCcampus to ensure access and affordability for students and faculty alike. The key to this cornerstone is found in the quality and rigour of the resources developed.
  3. Fund – the focus of this cornerstone is on resources and sustainability. Developing quality resources is important but so is the question of sustainability. The key to finding solutions to the sustainability question will be found in partnerships and collaborations. It is the best interest of the project to collaboratively work with other stakeholders to find a solution so these resources can continue to be revised and redistributed.
  4. Research – the final cornerstone for this project will have a focus on using the latest research to inform content delivery. The implementation of educational technology will not only support the quality of resources it will enable greater accessibility.

There will be three distinct pathways for the development of resources:

  1. Articulation Groups – due to the role and importance of Articulation Groups in the overall system of trades training, including these groups is imperative. These groups may undertake a projects together, or they may choose to have individual subject matter experts represent them in doing the work.
  2. Institutional Partnerships – working collaboratively with institutions to ensure their subject matter experts receive the support they need will be a major asset.
  3. Individual Subject Matter Experts – this pathway is in an effort to include those experts who may want to seek opportunities to develop open resources on their own. In the event that an articulation group suggests a project champion that too would be included in this pathway.

It is the intent of this project to collaborate with the Industry Training Authority and Trades Training British Columbia to ensure any resource development by BCcampus is not a duplication of recent work already completed.

We are extremely thankful for the opportunity to not only partner with institutions and individual educators and we are grateful for the opportunity to have a positive impact on Trades training in the province and make a difference in the lives of skilled trades apprentices.

Further Information:

If you have questions about the project or ideas about OER in business, please contact project manager Tim Carson at

Download the following poster to share with colleagues, or contact us for print copies:

Trades ZTC Programs – one-pager