Workers in Northern Ontario getting help to start careers in construction

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Ontario government will fund two projects to offer free training in construction jobs to 645 people in Northern Ontario, prioritizing people from remote First Nations and Indigenous communities.

Projects, which received $1 million are designed to prepare participants for in-demand jobs in the construction sector, including heavy equipment operator and electrical trades, addressing a skilled trades shortage in the local workforce.

Monte McNaughton
Monte McNaughton

“We’re seeing strong job growth across the province, and the North is no exception. There are thousands of well-paying and rewarding jobs in the resource sector just waiting to be filled by people with the right skills,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development.

“These projects will connect people with the training they need to restart their careers, earn bigger paycheques for their families and boost development in Northern Ontario’s resource sector.”

Construction training program returns to Soo

In the first six months of 2021, there were over 2,600 skilled trades jobs unfilled in Northern Ontario.

A total of $582,000 will go to NORCAT to train 20 participants to safely operate machinery to build roads, move minerals and harvest forests. Trainees will receive free in-class and hands-on training over a period of five-to-six weeks at NORCAT’s forest and mining operations in Thunder Bay, with free lodging and transportation to and from their training site.

Additionally, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 1687 (IBEW 1687) will receive over $467,000 to develop a virtual training centre to teach 625 electrical workers

The funding announced last week is part of the government’s $115 million Skills Development Fund to address challenges to hiring, training and retraining workers and apprentices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are excited to partner with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to address the skilled labour shortage and the need to engage and provide training to build competence and confidence in our next generation of workers in Ontario’s mining, forestry, and construction industries,” said Don Duval, CEO of NORCAT.

“Collectively, these industries play an integral role in driving our province’s economic prosperity and our training programs, funded in part by the Skills Development Fund, will enable us to provide hands-on experiential training and prepare workers for meaningful, safe, and sustainable careers.”

NORCAT’s training program will be offered from Sept. 13 to Dec. 3, 2021. To apply, contact NORCAT’s Thunder Bay office at (855) 966-7228, ext. 324

IBEW 1687 will offer training beginning Nov. 1. To apply, contact Chase Beaudoin, market development manager at (249) 878-0227 or

“The IBEW has always been dedicated to providing the best on-the-job training for electricians in the industrial, commercial, residential, and utility sectors of Northern Ontario,” said – Travis Merrett, IBEW 1687 Business Manager and Financial Secretary.

“Thanks to the SDF opportunity, we will now be able to provide at-home and on-the-job upgrade training for all our members through our state-of-the-art virtual training centre, including many First Nations communities, regardless of where they reside. Funding from the Ontario Government will allow us to tackle the challenges ahead. The IBEW will now be able to provide our members with access to these important items. We are thankful for the opportunity and are looking forward to a workforce that is more skilled and knowledgeable for years to come.”


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