New mentorship program will prepare Indigenous people for construction careers

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Ontario government has earmarked almost $350,000 to provide free mentorship and training in construction for up to 60 people in the Sarnia area, most from local Indigenous communities.

The project will prepare participants for a range of careers in the construction sector, including cement finisher and construction craft worker, addressing a skilled trades shortage in the local workforce.

“Construction workers are the backbone of our communities, building the hospitals we’re born in, the schools where we learn, the broadband that connects us, the pipelines to heat our homes and the roads we travel on,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development.

“Now, more than ever, these in-demand jobs can provide a stable, well-paying career path, particularly for those who have been hit hard by job losses in the last year. This investment will help ensure anyone can access opportunities in the trades.”

Led by LiUNA Local 1089’s Training Centre, the program will offer 12 weeks of training, introducing participants often underrepresented in skilled trades to construction safety, material handling, introduction to blueprints and specifications, introduction to construction tools, and scaffolding.

“LiUNA Training is a gateway to empowering a viable career path in the construction industry. Dismantling barriers and ensuring that opportunity is equally distributed, through outreach and apprenticeship programs, is of utmost importance in advancing opportunities for an inclusive workforce that remains at the forefront of building and strengthening the province,” said Joseph Mancinelli, LiUNA International Vice President and Regional Manager of Central and Eastern Canada.

Four cohorts of training will be offered through March 2022

“As LiUNA remains committed to hands-on skills training, health and safety, mentorship and paths for advancement, we applaud the unwavering commitment of Minister McNaughton, who continues to remove barriers, modernize the skilled trades and amplify outreach opportunities for underrepresented communities, working collaboratively with labour to advance rewarding careers in the construction industry,” Mancinelli said.

The goal is to provide basic skills needed to move into apprenticeship roles with local employers in construction. Participants will also be able to earn up to 12 certificates in courses such as tool usage, working at heights, confined spaces and first aid.

LiUNA will work with field representatives and local employers to help participants secure jobs or apprenticeships after training. They are also providing free private transportation to training sessions for all participants.

The project will also prepare 12 current tradespeople to deliver training support to those who are new to the trades through a train-the-trainer program that includes shadowing ongoing courses including pipe laying and construction craft work. This will give them the chance to expand their knowledge while teaching them how to pass on their experience to future journeypersons.

“Our government is once again demonstrating its commitment to supporting the skilled trades while promoting inclusion and opportunities in Indigenous communities hit hard by COVID-related job losses,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “The construction trade is central to Ontario’s economy and at all times requires workers who are well trained and highly skilled. Participants in this program will learn the foundational skills vital for a life-long, rewarding career in construction.”

The program will provide “life-changing skills and opportunities for more than 60 people locally to enter the trades and advance their careers,” said Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey. “Jobs in the construction sector are high-paying and in demand right across the province. I am extremely proud that our government is making this investment, which will help ensure that underrepresented communities in the trades are being given an opportunity to enter this exciting and rewarding career stream.”

Ontario’s $115-million Skills Development Fund was created to address challenges to hiring, training and retraining workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and is part of the province’s 2021 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy.

For more information on the training project and how to apply, contact LiUNA at (519) 332-1089.

According to BuildForce Canada, the construction industry will need more than 100,000 additional workers, including skilled tradespeople, to replace retiring workers and meet expected employment growth over the next decade (2021-2030).

In the first quarter of 2021, there were 13,380 job vacancies in the construction sector in Ontario, up from 11,075 in the first quarter of 2020.

Information about Ontario’s economy and how to do business here. Includes economic development opportunities, research funding, tax credits for business and the Ontario Budget.

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