A new program offered through Cambrian College and Collège Boréal offers a leg up to those who want to become a carpentry apprentice.
The pre-apprenticeship program is aimed at individuals who don't have the necessary basic education to enter an apprenticeship or can't find an employer willing to sponsor their training.
The province recently provided $208,131 to Cambrian and $136,427 to Boréal to offer the carpentry pre-apprenticeship program. Participation in the program is free, along with any required textbooks, safety equipment and tools.
Louise Turcotte, Cambrian College's associate dean for the schools of skills training and community and corporate learning, explained there's three phases involved in the pre-apprenticeship program.
The college first offers education upgrading to ensure participants meet the basic education requirements to become an apprentice, she said. Then the participants complete level one of the apprenticeship, which involves in-class training.
“Once they've completed that, the third part is to actually go out in the workforce and get some experience in that area,” Turcotte said.
“So they get to do all this, and you hope at the end, the ultimate outcome would be for them to land a job with the employer, who will then consider registering them as an apprentice.”
There's currently a pre-apprenticeship group in Espanola taking the first phase of training at Cambrian's campus in the community, she said.
The first phase of training is also currently being offered in Webequie, a community located north of Thunder Bay, in the college's mobile trades training trailer.
Once the trailer returns from up north, it will be sent to Espanola so students can take the second phase of training, Turcotte said.
Cambrian and Boréal are working with local employment agencies to find clients to participate in the program.
In Cambrian's case, it's working with Geztoojig Employment and Training and Employment Options, while Boréal is working with Option Emploi and ACE.
Turcotte said she was pleased to hear the government was funding the program.
“We hope it will be the stepping stone to other pre-apprenticeships, because there is a big demand for the skills training,” she said.
“For some of the individuals that are interested, the challenge is maybe not having the skills required to be able to get into it. This is a way to open that door for individuals who want to get into apprenticeship training.”
Cambrian College president Sylvia Barnard said in a press release she's also pleased with the funding announcement.
“This investment is helping carpentry students to learn practical skills and techniques, which are necessary for rapid entry into the workforce, or to pursue further training and education,” she said.
“These graduates will help to meet industry demand in Northern Ontario, which is also going to encourage business growth in our region.”
Boréal president Denis Hubert-Dutrisac said in the press release the college is “honoured” by the province's confidence in the college, as evidenced by the funding announcement.
“Thanks to our expertise working in the field with industries and employers throughout the province, the apprentice carpenters will be well trained to fill the need in manpower and contribute directly to the economic group in their regions.”
Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci said he's pleased the two local colleges are working with the province to help people develop the skills needed to be an apprentice.
“Ontario needs skilled workers to keep our economy strong and help local communities across the province become more prosperous,” he said.
“We are investing in our apprenticeship and skilled trades to help more people prepare for the jobs of the future.”