A construction industry group concerned about the lack of skilled trades is taking matters into its own hands — and placing tools in the hands of students.
This week the Southern Interior Construction Association held a graduation ceremony for students enrolled in a pre-apprenticeship course.
“It was needed,” said program co-ordinator Kym Behrns. “It gave us the opportunity to train some people with the help of government. We’re looking to place students with our membership.”
This spring, 14 students were split into either a 12-week or 19-week group. The course covered the basics in electrical, carpentry and plumbing. This summer, students will either be placed into the workforce to gain hours toward apprenticeships or prepare to attend additional trades training at Thompson Rivers University.
One of those students, Jordan Daneluk, is about to start his apprenticeship in the highest-demand area.
“Carpentry is a little slower, Behrns said. “In electrical there’s demand across the province. They’re looking for electricians and apprentices and can only meet half the requirement.”
That’s just the message Daneluk wants to hear. Prior to starting in the program, he worked in Northern Alberta with Suncor. Tired of life away from Kamloops, he decided to get new skills that will be marketable here.
“I got interested in electrical,” Daneluk said. “I liked everything about it. It’s well paid and there’s a demand for it.”
Another student completing the program, Tim Hundey, saw a newspaper ad earlier this year about the program. The cook was thinking about doing something else.
Both Hundey and Daneluk said the background in all three disciplines was useful and will help in their specialties down the road.
In Hundey’s case, he’s looking at plumbing. Like Daneluk, he hopes to get a job this summer with a company and improve his training down the road.
“I don’t know where I’m going yet,” Hundey said. “I’m hoping I can get a job with a plumbing or renovation company, to get my foot in the door.”
Students came from a variety of backgrounds, from those paying their own way, like Hundey, to those financed through their status on employment insurance or work history, for example.
Behrns said the construction association will look at starting another program this winter, depending on assistance from government sources.
He also said Thompson Rivers University, which hosted the worksite and classrooms, never saw his program as competition.
“TRU negotiated use of their facilities. They’ve been co-operative. They see a laddering effect.”