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Ontario Construction News staff writer
The Ontario government is spending more than $600,000 to help 390 young people from underrepresented backgrounds train for and secure apprenticeships in the construction sector.
Funding will target careers in plumbing, steam fitting, electrical, elevator mechanic and refrigeration trades through programs delivered by Hammer Heads, a non-profit organization that supports underprivileged youth from the Greater Toronto Area.
Applications are being accepted online.
“Not every young person needs to go to university. Rewarding jobs in the construction sector are growing, well-paid and going unfilled,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development.
“Hammer Heads helps guide talented, trained and eager young people along their journey to these life-changing careers with education and hands-on learning. These projects will help boost our economy and give these young workers a leg up.”
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).
Three new programs will be funded:
- $350,569 for a free pre-apprenticeship program led by Hammer Heads to enable 18 youths to participate in Hammer Heads’ 10-week program preparing for careers in the construction sector. The program covers health and safety training, helps participants with academic upgrading and provides soft skills job preparation, construction skills training and placement with a union for an apprenticeship. The program for the first cohort began on June 21, and the second begins on Jan. 17, 2022.
- $218,200 for the Pinball Clemons Foundation to mentor 300 graduates of the Hammer Heads pre-apprenticeship program in years two through six of their apprenticeships, ensuring they have the support they need to successfully complete apprenticeship training. The Hammer Heads program currently guides program graduates through the first year of apprenticeship employment.
- $34,314 for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 353 to create and deliver the Hammer Heads Virtual Reality Safety Training project, which will help 72 Hammer Heads participants travel virtually onto real construction sites to learn about safety hazards and best practices.
“IBEW Local 353 has been committed to working with diverse communities, encouraging young people to join the trades. We thank the government for recognizing our efforts. This funding will assist our ongoing efforts to reach out and support marginalized and racialized communities along with the youth at risk, building stronger communities together,” said Lee Caprio, business manager/financial secretary, IBEW Local 353.
Hammer Heads’ June cohort has already been filled. People interested in the January cohort can apply, for free, through referrals by youth employment agencies, employment service providers, case workers, job coaches, youth shelters, Children’s Aid Societies and other youth support providers.
“The Hammer Heads program is excited to work collaboratively to provide under-resourced and under-represented youth with training and apprenticeship career opportunities within the construction industry,” said James St. John, director of the Hammer Heads program.
“This funding stream will enable our program to positively impact these youth and to contribute to our communities and the province in a meaningful, sustainable way, resulting in much-needed systemic change.”