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Mobile training classroom ready to hit the road

The LiUNA Local 607 mobile training classroom in Thunder Bay will provide a unique educational experience to people seeking apprenticeships in the skilled trades.

Bringing training directly to the apprentice will not only get more people prepared to enter skilled trades jobs, but workers believe it will also help boost local labour forces.

“There are a lot of small communities around here where people don’t have the option to even get the tickets to be a labourer,” said Alexander Marshall, who is training for a cement finishing apprenticeship. “You can go to a small community and get 15 to 20 people certified in a day and that instantly boosts the labour force.”

LiUNA Local 607 unveiled its new mobile training classroom on Aug. 6. The unit can offer classroom training to 16 students at a time and will be travelling to communities and job sites across Northern Ontario.

“I had this vision a while back to get this mobile training classroom because it would help us when we go and do our remote training,” said Terry Varga, business manager with LiUNA Local 607.

“We can bring training to the job sites. Even the Ring of Fire would be in our jurisdiction. It is a good unit to have right now and I think we will be the leaders in training moving into the future when all these big projects start up.”

The mobile training classroom received $182,000 in funding from the federal government under the Innovation in Apprenticeship Stream of the Union Training and Innovation Program.

The vehicle can tow equipment for training and includes a classroom inside with video and height training equipment.

“When I worked in construction, I wouldn’t mind if one of these rolled up on-site for some training,” Varga said. “Students in this class seem to love it. We can do any of the core training from our apprenticeships. You are still going to have to do some practical outside, but from the learning aspect, we can do inside.”

LiUNA Local 607 is partnering with several community organizations including Anishnabek Employment and Training Services, Pays Plat First Nation, and the Construction Association of Thunder Bay to assist in the recruitment of students.

The first stop for the mobile training classroom will be Fort Frances, where Seven Generations Education Institute is looking to put on a program about construction.

Marshall said he hopes to see the mobile training classroom travel to as many communities as possible to give people interested in skilled trades an opportunity to pursue their career goals without having to face barriers like travel.

“If the Ministry hadn’t partnered with the local this year, I would have had to go to Southern Ontario to get this training,” he said. “I would have had to pay for living expenses, as well as the training. So the accessibility of this is going to be amazing.”

“I hope this goes to more northern communities. LiUNA is all about Indigenous support so I am going to be very happy to see more local people building in their own communities.”

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