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TRAINING & EDUCATION: RESCON initiatives help mitigate labour supply issues
July 31st, 2018 10:30 am     A+ | a-

Andrew Pariser and Amina Dibe / RESCON

Earlier this year, RESCON and the Ontario Residential Council of Construction Associations (ORCCA) applied and received two grants to address labour supply issues in the residential sector.

The first program focused on expanding opportunities for graduates from various Humber College skilled trade programs. The second, is a labour market research study on recruitment and retention in Ontario residential construction trades as well as infrastructure trades essential to develop low-, mid- and high-rise residential sites.

See HOMES Publication Group's coverage about these two programs here.

Humber / RESCON / ORCCA Skilled Trades Program

Building on a very successful and well recognized partnership with George Brown College, RESCON and ORCCA reached out to establish a strategic partnership with Humber College. Established in 1967, Humber College is a global leader in polytechnic education. Humber provides career-focused education to 31,000 full-time and 23,000 part-time students across three campuses. For this specific program, the School of Applied Technology was our key partner.The School of Applied Technology offers more than 37 comprehensive programs in design, advanced manufacturing, engineering technologies and skilled trades. The school prepares students for careers of the future.

The purpose of the Humber / RESCON / ORCCA Skilled Trades Program is to increase internship and entry-level opportunities in the residential construction and skilled trades programs.

The pilot program aims to place graduates from Humber programs including: carpentry and home renovations; plumbing techniques; and industrial woodworking within residential sub-trades like:

- concrete and drain installation
- high-rise forming
- low-rise framing
- railings installation
- tile, terrazzo and tile setting
- trim carpentry

In addition to the placements, online modules have been created to orient graduates to the residential sector and front-line supervisors to the Humber Program.

The Job Seeker module was designed to help recent graduates, and more generally, job seekers in the construction industry, learn about select residential trades and basic health and safety. The front-line supervisor module was created to help support small and medium-sized residential construction firms when recruiting and retaining employees.

Highlights of the job seeker module include: the build environment, expectations employers have of new hires (specific to their respective sub-trade), and essential health and safety tips.

Finally, with the help of the School of Applied Technology’s Work Placement Services Office, students and/or recent graduates were invited to participate in pre-internship activities including: the development of competency-based resumes and cover letters, as well as site tours hosted by ORCCA sub-trade employers.

The overall goals of this project are to help sustain labour supply, while filling the missing link and bridging the communications gap within the industry.


This project, formally known as Retaining Employees in the Skilled Trades (R.E.S.T.) will fill an information gap related to recruitment and retention of tradespeople. While other Labour Market Information reports look at construction broadly, they seldom focus exclusively on the residential and residential-related infrastructure trades.

Building on the project’s kick-off event held in the spring, which included presentations from leading behavioural economist Jason Stewart, and Jon Callegher, executive director of Job Talks, the report will be comprised of a literature review to document existing best practices; a survey of more than 300 tradespeople employed in residential and residential-related infrastructure trades; and analysis of what draws individuals to work in the trades and why they stay in the trades.

Finally, the residential sector in the GTA is unique within Canada and North America and a behavioural economic lens will be used to identify barriers and practical recommendations on how labour supply issues can be addressed in the short and long term.

While these two programs are a good start, they are just a drop in the bucket. The construction industry is a major economic driver of the province and the country. With more developments across the province, we need to ensure that we have a sufficient labour force to keep up with demand and growth.

Andrew Pariser is the vice-president of RESCON and chair of the RESCON health and safety committee. Email him at

Amina Dibe is a policy and programs analyst for RESCON with a focus on training and apprenticeship, health and safety, and government relations. Email her at

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