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Skilled Trades Training and Education During COVID-19
May 25th, 2020 6:27 pm     A+ | a-
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By Andrew Pariser & Amina Dibe / RESCON

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of how kids and young adults learn, with a complete shift to online instruction for the time being. While e-learning works better for certain subjects than it does others, training and education in the construction skilled trades will always require a hands-on learning component.
Although most training centres and colleges are closed, several institutions and associations have increased the number of online resources available at no cost for those interested in learning about a career in the construction industry – whether you are a student, recent grad or looking to transition into a second career.
Here are some of the resources available:
 
Job Talks
 
Job Talks is a research and media group that focuses on Canadian workers. Job Talks is on a mission to change the way jobs in the trades are looked upon by career-seekers, parents and educators. The Job Talks Construction video series profiles different careers in the construction skilled trades through YouTube videos. Each video features an actual worker and briefly discusses the duties of the job, pay, benefits, career progression and educational and training pathways into that trade. According to Jon Callegher, executive director of Job Talks, the video series has been incorporated into an Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program course at a high school in Brantford to help with distance learning.
 
OCCA
 
The Ontario Construction Careers Alliance (OCCA) is an industry-funded coalition which promotes construction trades and professional careers and provides information about the resources available to pursue them in high schools across Ontario. The OCCA has quickly pivoted away from in-classroom presentations and is creating an online resource to provide an in-depth introduction of construction careers to Ontario students. Videos targeting high school students are being used, including Job Talks videos. OCCA understood that online resources were lacking for teachers focused on the skilled trades and is working quickly to fill that void. For more information, please visit OCCA’s website here.
 
Skills Ontario
Skills Ontario is focused on building Ontario’s skilled trades and technologies workforce, which includes industries from construction to culinary. The organization hosts skills competitions and challenges, as well as in-school presentations. Skills Ontario has moved most of its programs online, including the 2020 Skills Ontario Contests and Competitions. In addition, the organization was quick to launch its #skillsathome campaign, building on its social media foundation which includes but is not limited to Instagram (@skillsontario) and Twitter (@skillsontario). The all-trades campaign challenges families and students to stay at home and share their passion for the trades. This includes bridge-building competitions, bake-offs, creating backyard birdfeeders and more. In short, Skills Ontario has combined two of RESCON’s top passions – keeping people safe and skilled trades activities.
 
LiUNA Local 183 Training Centre
On May 14, LiUNA Local 183’s Training Centre – which is jointly trusteed by labour and management – launched an expanded a selection of online courses. These include but are not limited to:
  • Small Tools Awareness
  • Fire Extinguisher Safety
  • WHMIS (was already online)
  • Traffic Control Person Safety
  • Trenching Safety Awareness
  • Confined Space Awareness
In addition, the training centre has announced that work is underway to amend existing in-person safety training to comply with social and physical distancing requirements. While there is no set date for these programs to resume, the training centre continues to lead the way in health and safety for workers and their employer partners.
For more information on available courses please contact the LiUNA Training Centre at (416) 242-7551.
 
Andrew Pariser is the vice-president of RESCON, chair of the RESCON Training and Apprenticeship Committee, and is on the BOLT board of directors. Email him at pariser@rescon.com.
 
Amina Dibe is the programs and policy analyst for RESCON. Email her at dibe@rescon.com.
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