On April 19, the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton, visited Niagara College’s Welland Campus to announce a $1.2 million dollar Skills Development Fund (SDF) grant for a partnership between the Niagara Home Builders’ Association (NHBA) and Niagara College to help meet the demand for skilled trades workers in the residential construction industry.
“All across our province, we continue to see a shortage of workers in the skilled trades, for many life-long careers that pay six figures with defined benefits and pensions,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “These unfilled jobs cost our economy billions in lost productivity and mean families are waiting longer for the goods and services they need. That is why our government is making strategic investments to offer hands-on training and paid work placements for eager job seekers in Niagara, connecting them with local employers in their community who are ready to hire.”
With Ontario projected to build 1.5 million homes in the next 10 years, the NHBA and Niagara College are working together to help close the skills gap in the construction industry and the trades. The provincial SDF funding will support the delivery of a customized Construction Skills training program – hands-on instruction through NC’s School of Trades followed by an eight-week paid work placement – to individuals who have been unable to pursue a career in the trades due to financial or other barriers.
“Studies show that as many as one-in-five jobs within the province of Ontario will be in the skilled trades by the year 2025,” said Richard Lawrence, President of the NHBA. “This program will allow the NHBA and Niagara College to develop and train students with the skills they need in order to be job site ready to work their way into building a stable career, while filling the void of the 100,000 workers our industry needs over the next decade.”
“Niagara College is grateful for this funding, which will help us address an urgent need for skilled workers in the residential construction industry,” said Niagara College President Sean Kennedy. “Today’s investment by the province supports our important role working closely with industry partners to meet the current and future needs of employers.”
NC recently launched a Construction and Maintenance Electrician program and a General Carpenter program.
“Trade-based jobs are in demand. We are in a crisis and need to ensure our industry continues to move forward,” said Chuck McShane, CEO of the NHBA. “This program will open doors for our local workforce, economy and the industry sector overall”.
The Construction Skills Certificate of Completion program will welcome 80 participants over four intakes between June 2022 and March 2023. No prior construction background is required, and participants will gain a broad range of skills and knowledge – including occupational health and safety, power and non-power tool usage, safe handling of materials in the construction sector – as well as the specific skills needed to fulfil the demand for drywall installation and roofing professionals. The program will offer flexible delivery to allow participants to remain employed while they earn new skills.
Together, the NHBA and NC will work together to begin recruiting candidates into the new program, and the NHBA will take a significant lead in engaging its members to connect participants with employment.