WIN IT program aims to score big with underrepresented groups in the trades – – Daily Commercial News

Dry Wall Contractor

Building trades trainers are increasingly crafting recruitment drives that involve pre-apprenticeship programs targeting underrepresented groups partly as a response to societal pressures for a diversified workforce.

But the recruitment shift is also out of necessity.

“We’ve exhausted that white male demographic,” says Adam Bridgman, provincial carpentry training co-ordinator with the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario.

“It wasn’t that we actively went out of our way to just hire white guys for the last 40, 50, 60, 100 years.”

But many young white males came to the trades to follow in the footsteps of their fathers.

That is not happening today and the Carpenters’ locals in Ontario see a growing need for women, people of colour and other minorities to help meet future workforce needs, Bridgman says.

PHOTO COURTESY CARPENTERS’ LOCAL 93 IN OTTAWA—Carpenters’ Local 93 in Ottawa is running a pre-apprenticeship program for Indigenous people, women and newcomers. Called WIN IT, it is tailored to work in the ICI sector. Pictured is Brianna Gour from the pre-apprenticeship program in Ottawa.

A case in point is in Ottawa where Carpenters’ Local 93 is running a pre-apprenticeship program for Indigenous people, women and newcomers. Called WIN IT, it is tailored to work in the ICI sector, specifically concrete formwork and steel stud framing (two areas of need), the latter done in partnership with Local 2041.

“They (students) are given real job-like experiences, what they will see as a carpenter in the ICI industry,” says Jon Baron, Local 93’s training co-ordinator.

Of the 10 participants in the first cohort earlier this year, seven were woman, six of whom signed on as apprentices, says Baron.
“We didn’t anticipate this much success.”

The pre-apprenticeship course includes an introduction to framing, scaffolding, formwork, welding and stationary power tools.

Virtual reality equipment accelerates learning, giving students virtual construction site experience.

“It takes days off the learning curve,” he says.

Health and safety training such as working at heights, power elevated work platforms, forklift operator and first aid/CPR is also covered.

Baron says while most of the participants have been young at 18 to 20 years old, most are “very motivated. They want to be here, they ask a lot of questions.

The training and materials costs of WIN IT are free to students. The Local receives funding through the province’s Skills Development Fund.

Baron says the goal at Local 93 is to train 36 apprentices in three cohorts a year. It might not seem like a lot, but he believes the merits of a career in the trade could spread through word of mouth quickly to other eligible candidates.

“I see a huge benefit to the program,” says Baron. “I’d say it is working better than some others I’ve seen, so I hope that is enough to help us secure some more funding.”

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