OTTAWA – The Construction Sector Council has launched a two-year initiative to address the shortage of skilled ironworkers in Canada and provides job opportunities for Aboriginal youth.
“It’s a win-win situation,” says Robert Blakely, one of the CSC co-chairs and Director of Canadian Affairs for the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. “The program addresses the expected shortage of skilled ironworkers while providing the opportunity for young Aboriginal men and women to learn a trade they can be proud of and where they earn a good wage.”
The CSC will work with the Aboriginal Human Resource Development Council of Canada to get the project underway. Funding is being provided by Human Resources Development Canada.
“It’s the right program at the right time,” says Roy Mussell, an Aboriginal Human Resource Development Council of Canada Board Member and Manager of the Sto:lo Nation Human Resources Development Council in British Columbia. “Aboriginal communities are the largest untapped labour pool in the country and historically, there has been a strong Aboriginal presence within the ironworker trade.
“The Aboriginal population is growing faster than any other segment of Canadian society with more than 50% under 15 years of age,” he adds. “By 2006 we will have a working population of 920,000, most in Western Canada. Yet school drop out rates are high and more than two-thirds of Aboriginal students leave school not literate. This is totally unacceptable.”
Among other things, the program will identify best practices to encourage Aboriginal youth to enter the ironworker trade. It will also provide a clearer picture of the career opportunities within the trade, as well as mentors and role models to foster pride in the profession.
Research shows that Canadians’ awareness of the construction trades in general is very low.
“This is largely due to the continuing societal focus on the university degree as a means of success and due to the inadequate promotion of apprenticeship and trades,” says Timothy Flood, the CSC’s business co-chair and President of John Flood & Sons (1961) Ltd.
“While many parents and youth are aware of the training, personal goals are influenced by popular careers such as high tech, computer related and the entertainment industry,” he says.
The ironworker Aboriginal awareness campaign is one of many human resource initiatives being developed by the Construction Sector Council to address the current and future human resource needs of the construction industry in Canada. The CSC is a not–for–profit, independent partnership organization established in 2001, made up of representatives from labour and business.
For more information on this and other CSC programs:
Construction Sector Council
Tel: (613) 569-5552
Fax: (613) 569-1220