by Gloria Welton
With financial support from the federal and provincial governments, the Construction Association of PEI (CAPEI) is opening a new 3,000 square foot construction industry training centre.
The centre is located at the Royalty Centre in Charlottetown, at the site of the original Provincial Vocational Institute (PVI) carpentry shop. CAPEI is presently renovating the space and hopes the centre will be operational year-round.
“The new facility will help the industry dig deeper to help those interested in entering the field,” says Sam Sanderson, General Manager, CAPEI. “We have offered programing for youth to expose them to a career in construction for almost 32 years and have expanded to offer programs to newcomers, Indigenous and other underrepresented communities as well. The new training centre opens up even more possibilities.
“The new facility is a much-needed next step as industry struggles with the shortage of skilled trades workers. It will help promote opportunities for anyone looking to begin a valuable entry-level career in construction. Industry will be in a better position to put real tools in people’s hands and gain valuable and employable skills in the construction field.”
Sam says in the past CAPEI has had strong partnerships with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity to give program participants an opportunity to test out a career in trades. “We will continue to work with our community partners. The new centre gives us a central location to bring in more people who are considering a career in trades and people from the industry who can offer their expertise.”
They plan to use the space to offer the skills training portions of existing programs such as:
- Skilled Newcomers in Construction program presently held at the Parkdale-Sherwood Lions Club. That program will have five new intakes over the next two years
- Discover Carpentry Program presently held at the Charlottetown Fire Hall, Station 2
- Youth in Trades 2021 program will be held in Charlottetown and Summerside. The classroom start date is April 12, 2021.
“There are so many potential opportunities,” says Sam. “We want to offer training opportunities to more people, so partnerships are important. We are working to partner with organizations to attract more newcomers, Indigenous peoples, women, and all ethnic backgrounds to make the construction industry an accessible and valued career choice. Construction knows no barriers and we need to create any opportunity we can.
“The facility will offer entry-level training only. We encourage those who want to take further training to go through the apprenticeship accredited trades programs at Holland College.”
This new location will offer hands-on experience and help people become more employable. It will provide the industry with new staff who have more exposure and experience, and who will be more ready to take on entry-level jobs.
“The training will offer entry-level experience in areas such as framing, siding, roofing, putting up dry wall, and more. Industry representatives will visit the facility to offer their expertise to the trainees. If the work cannot be done at the training centre, it could possibility be done at the job sites, which would be an incredible opportunity.
“Industry is really supporting this training model because of the need for more skills building. The forecast for 2021 is incredible for commercial construction and will provide very high employment potential for entry-level staff. There are presently about 600 open positions that we know of, and that number is growing with the demands on the industry.
“We have a lot of work to do and we need industry, government, and the community at the table. Buildforce Canada indicates that we will lose 20 to 25 percent of our skilled work force by 2029, which means up to 1,500 people will no longer be in the PEI workforce.”
Reaching youth in the school system: Virtual Reality Training Modules
Sam says they are putting a lot of effort into reaching junior high and high schools to find ways to give students more exposure to careers in construction.
“For instance, we just launched Virtual Reality Training. Anyone can put on a headset, grab controllers, and virtually experience trades such as welding, plumbing, or HVAC.”
CAPEI has incorporated Virtual Reality Training into their training programs and it will be available to the school system and other partners. “Those who have tried it are amazed at how much it feels like the real thing. We are the first construction association in Canada to offer virtual reality trades training.”
Connecting people to the industry
“I work with companies to see what their needs are and what positions are hardest to fill,” says Riley
“Our members are so busy managing their work,” Sam says. “They have told us time and time again they don’t have the time to post a job. Our service promotes the trades and helps match job seekers with employers.”
For more information about the Construction Association of PEI, call 902-368-3303. Visit www.capei.ca