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Carpenter training program targets Indigenous youth

Carpenters Regional Council Local 1669 inspiring future trades people

Taking proactive steps to combat the challenges facing the skilled trades industry is the best way to attract new people interested in a trade career. Recognizing that targeting diverse groups of individuals is key to replenishing the number of skilled tradespeople in Northern Ontario.

One such example in the carpentry trade is the innovative program developed and delivered by Carpenters’ Regional Council (CRC) Local 1669 in Thunder Bay. The program delivers ongoing 10-week carpentry pre-apprenticeship programs in partnership with Anishinabek Employment and Training Services (AETS).

“We’ve just wrapped up two back-to-back programs that delivered 20 weeks of training,” said Evan Reid, coordinator for the local union and president of the training centre where programs are delivered. “The partnership between AETS and the carpenters union is helping put Indigenous people to work in the carpentry trade.”

The course is geared around the level-one carpentry Red Seal curriculum and also provides some specialty equipment training, welding instruction, and interior systems training. Also included is comprehensive training in all the occupational health and safety areas. Upon completing the program, participants can choose to pursue a career in carpentry as apprentices working for CRC signatory contractors.

“AETS does the recruiting. We deliver the training and look for work opportunities for those who want to stick with it and get into the carpentry field,” said Reid. “Those who choose to apply with our local union can find an appropriate work opportunity. We’ve had great success with people graduating from the program and finding work in the carpentry field.”

The program is funded through the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, with AETS making the application in partnership with the carpenters union. Each program typically has 12 participants. Reid says that it’s important for Local 1669 that the program participants learn the skills that will ensure their success throughout their careers in the trade.

“Programs such as these help with our recruitment efforts. It also gives program participants an opportunity to gain skills and see if it’s a line of work they can turn into a career. It opens opportunities for people who otherwise may not have found their way into the trades.”

The program has been offered for the past four years. Jordan Rousselle, Program Coordinator with AETS, says that the carpentry pre-apprentice program has been a highly successful initiative, with many of the students in the first program of 2023 gaining full-time employment or starting a carpentry apprenticeship soon after finishing the program.

“AETS’s 9 First Nation communities have achieved great success with the help of the carpenters union's leadership and guidance,” he said. “AETS appreciates the Union's commitment to improving our members' abilities and skills while keeping in mind the cultural sensitivities of our Indigenous Students and the unique barriers faced by our First Nation Citizens. We at AETS are excited to continue our partnership with the Local 1669 team to further strengthen our community and Indigenous workforce.”

Learn more about the AETS program online here.

Learn more about Carpenters Regional Council online here.