B.C. government provides financial assistance for construction training

If a construction association, labour union or First Nation is looking for funding to train people for work in the construction industry, the B.C. government is here to help.

For example, the Community Workforce Response Grant program (CWRG) provides up to $10 million a year to support skills training leading to employment for unemployed and precariously employed (part-time, seasonal or casual) British Columbians.

CWRG has something for almost everyone. Four of its six funding streams have the most relevance to construction:

  1. The Emerging Priorities Stream supports communities that require skills training because of a shift in their labour market.

    Eligible applicants include unions and local governments.
  2. The Indigenous Communities Stream funds skills training to meet local labour market needs.

    Indigenous governments and organizations serving First Nations, Métis or Inuit people are eligible.
  3. The Workforce Shortages Stream helps address immediate workforce shortages.

    It provides funding for skills training and employment services for unemployed or precariously employed British Columbians.
  4. Eligible applicants are industry, sector and employer associations.

The Skills Training for Economic Recovery Stream provides short-term skills training for people who lose their job because of COVID-19.

Eligible applicants are industry, sector and employer associations with a mandate for training; union halls and training boards; Industry Training Authority-designated trade schools; B.C. private training institutions;  Aboriginal-controlled institutes; B.C. post-secondary institutions; and trade and industry-recognized personal safety trainers. 

A number of union training schools are applying, or considering applying, for CWRG funding.

“The Piping Industry College of BC is applying to offer programming to deliver essential skills, trade awareness and piping and welding foundation courses,” said BC Building Trades Council spokesperson Corry Anderson-Fennell. “These programs typically have successful outcomes. The college’s last welding foundations course saw all eight students in the program go directly to work in their field.”

In addition to the welders, The Ironworkers Local 97 training centre and the Construction and Specialized Workers’ Union Local 1611 training centre are both considering applying for funding in advance of the February 2021 deadline.

A recipient of CWRG funding is Jobs North (JN), a training initiative of the Kitsumkalum Band in Terrace, B.C.

JN is a six-week, hands-on program whereby participants complete 10 industry certifications that enable them to apply for construction work.

The program includes work site job training, in which each participant works for one month on a construction site under the direction of a licensed journeyman.

“CWRG funded six cohorts of 12 people each in the last year and a half,” said Tom Harrow, Jobs North manager of employment and training.

Two-thirds of the participants got jobs in construction, almost all of them at the LNG Canada facility under construction in Kitimat.

For more information on CWRG, go to click here

Also funded by the B.C. government is Construct Your Future (CYF), a program of the Vancouver Island Construction Association (VICA) thatenables young people to learn about careers in construction.

After eight weeks of free training – which pays up to $1,400/month – in virtual classrooms and on job sites, CYF helps participants find paid employment with a local construction company.

“Construct Your Future is probably unique in Canada,” says VICA CEO Rory Kulmala. “It’s a gentle introduction to the industry, not specific to any particular trade.”

Kulmala says CYF is four years old, and in that time it has put through more than 100 young people, about 80 per cent of whom have found employment in construction.

“We’ve created a way for young people to find out about construction and ease them into the industry safely and at the same time enable them to contribute in a way that works for everyone involved,” said Kulmala. 

One of the CYF graduates is Melissa Lacharity, who drives tandem dump trucks in the Victoria region.

“I used to work in retail, but I was always fascinated by trucks,” said Lacharity. “In 2019 I did 10 weeks of training with CYF and then a month of dump truck training afterward. Today I haul gravel and fill from excavations to dump sites and I love the work.”

Kinetic Construction Limited has employed several CYF graduates.

“They come to Kinetic after some actual construction work experience,” said Randy Delisle, Kinetic’s talent and development manager. “They start with us as labourers and if they show promise and interest we encourage them and support them as apprentices.”

Delisle says they’re “great workers.” 

“We have one young man working on the new dormitory project at the University of Victoria and another working on some concrete replacement near the Legislature,” he said.

The next CYF program begins Feb. 8, 2021. For more information, click here.

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