Meet the builders: RESCON’s residential construction program flourishes at George Brown College
Andrew Pariser and Amina Dibe / RESCON
It’s not often you find a practical, job-training educational program with over a 90% job-placement rate in Ontario.
But that’s exactly what you’ll find at the RESCON Residential Construction Management program at George Brown College.
It’s RESCON’s original education co-op program, and it was a very organic collaboration. Seven years ago, RESCON donated $250,000 which was matched by government to create the RESCON endowment fund through the George Brown Foundation. This fund provides all successful participants with a scholarship of approximately $1,000.
The current class taking the RESCON residential construction management program at George Brown College.
Now in its seventh year, the program has created opportunities for dozens of eager, energetic graduates of the construction and civil engineering technology program to get into residential construction.
(Check out the Toronto Star’s article on the program from earlier this year.)
We wouldn’t have taken this program from concept to reality without our incredibly supportive board of directors and association members. At a recent meet-and-greet lunch with this year’s RESCON students to kick off the placements, members and directors turned out to learn about the latest prospects including representatives from – Tridel, Mattamy, Mutual Developments, Laurier Homes, Brookfield and FRAM.
We’re grateful to all our members who took the time to come out to the event as well as those who continue to inquire about the program. For every director and member in attendance, there’s probably five members who are interested in what’s going on with the program.
The point of the lunch is to help students meet builders. Soon, we will help students put together resumes and cover letters, then we match them with a builder for a placement. If all goes well during their placement, job offers will be made.
Last year, everyone secured a placement and all but one graduated with a job.
RESCON's Andrew Pariser addresses the George Brown students as Peter Tumidajski of George Brown looks on.
Those placements are really key to this program,” said Peter Tumidajski, chair of the Angelo DelZotto School of Construction Management at George Brown College. “The courses taught at GBC are a good foundation, but the largest part of your learning is actually through the time you’re going to spend with one of the constituent companies of RESCON. I want to thank them for their ongoing support, and there are good things to come in the future.”
Among those builders, Josh Wills, Tridel estimator/procurement specialist, said they look for the same thing in the students they choose for co-ops every year: “Mostly we are looking for people willing to learn, be open, be hard-working and personable. We want people to start from the bottom and learn, get along with people on site. It really comes down to your relationships. It’s how you get along with your co-workers and the trades.”
'I THINK THEY HAVE THE DRIVE'
Wills said Tridel hired four people from the RESCON program last year and have about 15 still at Tridel working full-time throughout their participation in the program. “Most of the students work out,” Wills said. “I think they have the drive. They’re dedicated to the industry and finding a job. They’re taking an extra year of school and showing you dedication and drive.”
Among the 2019-’20 students, Paige O’Connell of East York – a graduate of the three-year civil engineering technology program – worked in construction with her family. “I liked the renovation and concrete pouring at houses in east-end Toronto. I enjoyed the hard work.
“The main reason I took the RESCON program is I want to do high-rise. I want to learn more about working with tender-bid documents and contracting. I want to understand the back door to high-rise projects – the practical with the physical work.”
Paige says she wants to be a project coordinator or site supervisor when she completes the program and co-op.
Faculty, including Tumidajski (right), join the students for a photo at the meet-and-greet lunch at George Brown's lakeshore campus in Toronto.
Nathan Volpe of Scarborough has similar ambitions, listing those two jobs and junior coordinator as a foothold into the residential construction.
“I’m a people person. I’ve always liked dealing with people, and that’s what drew me to the project management side of construction,” Nathan said. “And in residential construction, you’re doing a lot of everything, starting from developing a project, pricing, bidding, even the design phase.”
Bijal Dalal, who is originally from Gujarat, India, studied civil engineering at Maharaja Sayagirao University. She had various experiences in construction in India, including working with an architect, before coming to Canada 2.5 years ago. She is most interested in working in high-rise.
“I’m taking the residential management construction program to broaden my knowledge,” she told RESCON.
Bijal would prefer to be an estimator but thinks a coordinator job could work for her as well.
'BROADEN MY KNOWLEDGE'
Of the lunch meeting with the builders, she said: “It was a wonderful experience. I would like to thank RESCON and George Brown College. It’s a great opportunity to meet and greet the builders and faculty and have an idea for what they’re looking for. It was very helpful altogether.”
Congratulations to all of the graduates and thank you for choosing our industry. For more information, visit https://www.georgebrown.ca/programs/residential-construction-management-program-postgraduate-t408/.
Our final note here is a piece of advice for our new group of RESCON students – seize your opportunities. Attitude, a good work ethic and soft skills will get you far in your career in construction. Never give up!
Andrew Pariser is the vice-president of RESCON and chair of the RESCON health and safety committee. Email him at email@example.com. Amina Dibe is a programs and policy analyst at RESCON. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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