As more Canadians approach retirement and outnumber the young people entering the workforce, the demand for a new generation of workers is soaring – especially in the skilled trades sector. In fact, a total of 700,000 skilled trades workers are expected to retire in Canada between 2019 and 2028.
Paving the way for the expansion of the skilled trades sector starts by ensuring universal access to essential educational resources. To make this a reality, the Construction Foundation of BC (CFBC) – a registered Canadian charity – has made it its mission to help build the next generation of skilled workers.
“There aren’t enough young people interested in the trades and a big reason for that is a lack of knowledge about career pathways,” explains Abigail Fulton, Executive Director at CFBC. “Starting a career in the trades requires an apprenticeship which generally begins after high school, but many students aren’t familiar with this process and they don’t know where to start.”
Through various educational programs, workshops, and grants, CFBC aims to develop career pathways that are inclusive, celebratory, and community based. Their youth-centered programs, like Skills Ready, connect students with future employers to help them get sponsored as an apprentice.
“Young people today are much more informed on the impacts of climate change and they care about social justice,” says Abigail. “Through our Build Green Together Program we’d like to show them that they can be part of building the future we all want.”
The Build Green Together Program offers special workshops to get youth excited about working with their hands while learning about clean energy and sustainable construction. One of the workshops consists of teaching young people how to build a mini greenhouse, or seed shed.
“What’s really interesting about the mini greenhouse is we’ve been able to bring aspects of different trades by teaching them how to build that structure, so kids are exploring different tools and careers in one single project,” explains Jordan Perrault, Director of Strategic Initiatives at CFBC.
Like all CFBC programs, Build Green Together aims to give young people the ability to make choices and catalyze their curiosity.
“It’s not just about learning about solar panels,” says Jordan – “It's about understanding how clean energy works and bringing curiosity into the process, so they feel confident to be creative.”
The program launched this summer with a series of youth summer trade camps and will continue to roll out 75 workshops throughout the school year.
Having recently received additional funding from the Province, the CFBC team is now able to grow faster than was originally foreseen.
“Once we had Vancity on board as an industry supporter, other funders saw the value of the project as well,” says Abigail. “Big thanks to Tiffany [Ottahal] for recognizing this program was something special, and for suggesting we apply through Vancity’s granting system.”
As a strong advocate of building trades and unions, Tiffanny Ottahal, Community Investment Manager at Vancity, adds:
“To prop up Canada’s economic recovery, it is essential to support organizations like CFBC that work to inspire the next generation of skilled workers while advocating for sustainable building. We’re so excited to see how the Build Green Together Program continues to surprise everyone.”
Looking towards the future, CFBC is planning to highlight Build Green Together at the April 2024 Skills Canada BC competition in Abbotsford. The event will engage hundreds of trades competitors as well as thousands of youth spectators from across BC - an excellent opportunity to attract and promote interest in sustainable building.
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