“The construction industry on PEI has seen very significant growth, which is forecast to continue over the next few years,” says Sam Sanderson, General Manager, Construction Association of PEI.
“With our aging workforce, skilled tradespeople are in great demand and will be for years to come. As the need increases, we must encourage more women, youth, Indigenous peoples, and newcomers to enter this industry.”
Over the next three years, the Construction Association of PEI (CAPEI) is receiving funding from the Government of Canada through the Skills Link program called Youth in Trades to support 60 youth. Through a Government of Prince Edward Island program called Team Construction, SkillsPEI supported 20 youth.
Both initiatives are in place to offer programs for youth at risk and youth in general to develop careers in construction.
The first 20 participants of the provincially funded Team Construction program started their training in June 2017 and finished the classroom portion in August. Participants also have work placements with local businesses.
Starting in September, 2017, the federally funded Skills Link Youth in Trades program will have its first intake of youth interested in exploring careers in construction. There will be continuous intakes over the next three years.
“In recent years, we have had such a challenge getting our young people to stay on PEI and to find meaningful employment,” says Federal Member of Parliament Sean Casey. “There is no better time to be getting into the construction sector.”
Casey says young people need job skills and hands-on experience to succeed in the job market. “Many young people looking for work are struggling just to get a foot in the door. Many are caught in a catch-22 situation: no experience, no job – no job, no experience. Young people need a chance to show what they can do.”
The program, which is held in Charlottetown and in Summerside, includes eight weeks of employability skills and safety training in the classroom. Participants tour Holland College training sites and construction businesses. They will also receive a 14-week paid work placement in the construction industry. They are paid minimum wage for the classroom portion of the program.
Participants must be between 16 and 30, out of school, unemployed, and have barriers to employment such as non-completion of high school, identifying as a minority, housing issues, addictions, mental health struggles, or a disability.
Topics covered in the program:
- Job search strategies: resumes, interview skills, the hidden job market, computer search skills
- Goal setting: how do I get to where I want to go?
- Problem solving, team building, communication skills, public speaking, conflict resolution
- Job readiness, positive choices, self awareness, life balance, fostering relationships
- Learning styles, apprenticeship process, GED, post-secondary information
- Essential skills for success at work
- Employer expectations: work ethic explained by employers and guest speakers
- Financial strategies, budgeting, wellness
- Resolving employment barriers such as driver’s license, fines, transportation, education, attitude, housing, banking, accepting responsibility for life choices.
- Work site visits and projects
- Standard CPR/AED, first aid, WHMIS courses
- Fall protection and construction safety course certifications
- Occupational health and safety information, employment standards, human rights
- Orientation to the core trades: carpentry, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, welding, trades math
- Outfitted for work: work boots
- Exit policy based on attendance, behaviour, attitude, commitment, and participation
CAPEI working with the community is a win/win
CAPEI has more than 180 members. “Over the years, many of our members have helped our Youth in Trades participants through on-the-job-training and offering employment as well as with special builds and projects while they are still in training,” says Sam.
“We have helped Habitat for Humanity with community builds and had the youth involved. We have also worked with Women’s Network and participants from Trade HERizons. We have great partnerships with organizations such as Career Development Services, East Point Youth Development Center, the Reach Foundation, and PEI Association for Newcomers to PEI to encourage job seekers to consider construction as a career.
“Holland College has been very supportive and a key player. They have provided classroom space, pre-training, and information. We are also looking forward to working more with Holland College in the future on their accredited trades programs.”
Increasing construction work on PEI
In early August, Statistics Canada reported that from May 2016 to May 2017, PEI saw an increase of 3.8 percent in the number of people employed. “There has been an increase in the number of home, commercial, heavy construction, landscaping, renovations, and big civil projects,” says Premier Wade MacLauchlan. “This year, the municipal, provincial and federal governments spent a total of $40 million on water and sewer work on PEI.
“Construction remains a key foundation of PEI’s economy. At least 3,700 people are directly employed in construction on PEI. The sector expanded by 9.2 percent in 2016, and that growth continues in 2017.
“We see growth in housing starts and non-residential construction. We have seen wage increases that reflect that activity as well. During the summer, there were many construction-related vacancies listed on the WorkPEI website.”
The Premier said the provincial Team Construction program, along with Team Seafood and Team Youth Trucking, are in place to respond to the demand for workers in those industries.
“The message for people who want to locate here and Islanders who want to come home is that there is work in construction on PEI and in many other industries.”
Other measures to increase the number of construction workers on PEI
“Across Canada, the construction workforce is aging,” says Sonny Gallant, Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning, PEI. “Replacing retiring workers will be a continuing challenge.
“In anticipation of workforce demands, the government of PEI partnered with CAPEI to find solutions. A few months ago we announced funding for a construction worker recruitment plan. We are also working with Women’s Network to increase the number of women in the trades.
“We are also supporting employment in the construction sector through Training PEI and the Graduate Mentorship program. And we announced that we would double the support for these programs from 100 to 200 workers.
“The construction industry has a lot to offer, including good wages, continued growth, and interesting jobs. As the workforce ages, young Islanders will play an important role in filling the workforce needs of the construction sector on PEI.”
One youth’s story
Scott Murray was one of the participants in the Team Construction program that started in June in Charlottetown. His interest in construction was sparked when he built a tree fort when he was a kid. “My dad introduced me to many trades, including carpentry, and I have a friend who is a Red Seal Carpenter,” says Scott.
“I had an interest in carpentry, but it was hard to get my foot in the door. After high school I lacked in life experience. A lot of people went astray after high school, including myself. Working dead-end jobs for minimum wage made me feel like the harder you work, the less you get paid.
“This program gave me a lot of hope. If I would not have had the opportunity to be part of this program, a lot of things would still be out of focus for me.
“I learned so many important life lessons in the program. The topics we discussed ranged from self esteem to résumé building. It was very therapeutic as well. There was a lot of healing. I’m so happy there is more funding available for this program. Many people I know are going to the mainland or out west for job opportunities. But I would rather not have to leave PEI.
“We toured the Holland College Carpentry, plumbing and welding programs. Everyone we were introduced to was very positive and supportive. I want to learn how to do things right and to do a good job. The Construction Association lines us up with an employer, which is wonderful. This is a great opportunity, and I really appreciate it.”
For more information about the next intake for the Youth in Trades program, call the Construction Association of PEI at 902-368-3303 to find out about upcoming information sessions.
The Skills Link Youth in Trades program is a part of the Government of Canada Youth Employment Strategy and is funded by Service Canada.
The Team Construction Youth program is funded in whole or in part through the Canada/PEI Labour Market Development Agreement.