July 14, 2008

Rod Paynter with the Tradeworks Training Society poses with a saw in the CORE training facility.


Rod Paynter with the Tradeworks Training Society poses with a saw in the CORE training facility, which is located inside the Rona Vancouver 2010 Fabrication Shop.

Construction employment awaits many CORE graduates

A program based out of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is getting people ready for a career in construction.

Tradeworks Training Society offers a number of construction-related training programs, but one in particular aims to get disadvantaged inner city residents onto the Vancouver Olympic Athletes Village worksite in about eight weeks.

The potential construction workers can kick start their career with the Tradeworks pre-employment program.

It is called CORE (Construction Orientation To Retain Employment) Stage 1, and they are taught life skills and labour market information as well as having the chance to brush up their math skills to help them cope when they enter the workforce.

“It’s to get them ready for construction training,” explained Rod Paynter, with Tradeworks.

“They can prove to themselves that they have what it takes.”

After the two week program, the students enter the Vancouver Regional Construction Association’s (VRCA) CORE basic construction training program, where they are taught the nuts and bolts of working in construction.

They learn basic first aid, how to frame and use other tools of the trade in a part of the fabrication shop for the upcoming Olympic Games.

They graduate with five different certificates and are ready to enter, or re-enter, the workforce.

So far, 28 individuals have completed the CORE program and 27 of those started work.

From that group, 13 are still employed.

Another group of eight are currently taking the training.

The grads are then found employment at the Millennium Water condominium development in Southeast False Creek, which is doubling as the Vancouver Athletes Village during the Olympics.

The developer, Millennium Southeast False Creek Properties Ltd. signed a community benefits agreement to provide a minimum of 100 construction jobs at the site for inner city residents through either of the main contractors, MetroCan Construction Ltd. or ITC, or any of the subtrades.

So far, 55 people have started work and 33 of those people are still at it.

Millennium also provided $750,000 for a legacy fund for inner city training programs and support, and committed to buying $15 million in goods and services from inner city businesses.

However, not all inner city residents go through the employment program as some directly enter the CORE basic training program and others are placed directly into jobs.

Another 28 individuals immediately found work and 20 of those are still there or were successful at the job.

Building Opportunities with Business (BOB) is co-ordinating the effort and has been interviewing people for each of the training programs and the direct job placements.

“There are lots of different positions,” said Lani Johnson, with BOB.

She listed plumbing, formwork and rebar work as just a few of the available jobs.

Johnson said that they have even placed some workers directly into apprenticeships.

She said the CORE program is great because it touches on so many facets of construction.

“It gives them a feel of what they want to do when they get out of it,” she said.

“For some of them, a little boost is all they need.”

Those who complete the pre-employment program have a better success rate for completing the rest of the CORE program and landing, and more importantly, keeping a construction job, Paynter said.

The second pre-employment class is about to kick off and it will end shortly before the fourth edition of the CORE Stage 1 program starts.

In addition to running the CORE program, the VRCA is also providing a job coach to help individuals land their job and to provide support when they realize their employment.

“It’s an exciting initiative,” said Keith Sashaw, VRCA president. “We’re happy to be providing a benefit to the community.”

Tradeworks Training Society also runs other employment-related programs. It runs a youth carpentry program and a women’s woodworking and joinery program.

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