Program puts young people on pathway to success

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man holding plumbing project

A skilled trades program has put Lucas Weaver on a path he hopes will lead to a lucrative and stable career.

Weaver is a graduate of the Foundation for Trades program offered by St. Leonard’s Community Services. He has started an apprenticeship with Buzzbolt Electric Ltd. of Brantford and has been gaining a lot of valuable experience over the last several weeks working at job sites across the province.

“It was pretty darn good,” Weaver said of the program. “But when I first heard about it I thought it was too good to be true because it was being funded by the government.

“So for me, it was really something to have an opportunity like this and I was really impressed with it.”

The program connects young people between 18 and 29 years of age, who are either unemployed or underemployed, with the skills they need to get employment in construction. It is provided through a partnership that includes the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development, St. Leonard’s, Conestoga College and supported with financial assistance from the federal government.

Students received hands-on training in carpentry, plumbing and electrical over five weeks followed by four weeks of on-the-job training in the construction sector. Graduates earn a college certificate in Construction Foundations from Conestoga.

Weaver learned of the trades training program from an employment counsellor at St. Leonard’s and decided to give it a try. He was especially interested in the electrical part of the program.

“This program helped me find my niche and I think it’s something that will eventually lead to a career,” Weaver said adding that electricians earn a good living upon completing an apprenticeship.

Weaver was one of 30 students to graduate from the first two groups of students to participate in the program.

“We’re proud of our graduates,” Malcolm Whyte, director of employment services at St. Leonard’s, said. “Of the 30 prospective trade professionals who completed the program, 26 are already working in the construction field.

“Connecting community members with skills needed to succeed, and local businesses with qualified workers, is a rewarding achievement for our partnership.”

Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, said the program is an excellent example of available employment and training opportunities.

“Jobs in construction and the skilled trades lead to rewarding careers with pensions and benefits,” McNaughton said in a statement. “That’s why our government continues to invest in the next generation of skilled workers.

“We want to ensure all young people can get the training they need to earn bigger pay cheques and find careers they love.”

St. Leonard’s provides a range of social programs to support people in the community who need help with housing, justice and addiction and mental health issues.

The agency also has employment services centres in Brantford, Caledonia and Dunnville to connect employers with potential employees.

To learn more about Foundations for Trades and St. Leonard’s visit www.st-leonards.com or call 519-756-7665.

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