October 28, 2014
Northern Development Initiative Trust’s board of directors have approved a $250,000 grant for Project Shop Class (northern B.C.) – a program designed to replace and augment shop class equipment in high schools throughout the region.
The grant was approved with support from all four of the Trust’s regional advisory committees as well as its board, and comes amid a significant wave of proposed industrial development in the region that will require more skilled trades workers than northern B.C. currently has available.
Local high school graduates are an important source of labour for small and medium sized construction companies, but without more emphasis on shop class many of the companies will have difficulty recruiting the people they need to land new contracts and grow, which could result in lost growth opportunities for the region.
Project Shop Class is a partnership between the B.C. Construction Association North and the Construction Foundation of B.C. that will benefit the secondary schools in the region to provide the tools and equipment students need to train for rewarding trades careers.
The current budget for this northern focus of Project Shop Class totals $532,000 and includes generous donations from industry. A list of all donors can be found at the Construction Foundation of B.C. website. B.C.’s northern high schools have requested more than $1 million in support to date and therefore fundraising activities will continue.
Northern Development’s funding commitment was approved through the Trust’s Economic Diversification Infrastructure program, which provides up to $250,000 in grant funding.
“Northern B.C.’s shortage of skilled trades workers is a potential barrier to investment in the region, and the Project Shop Class program will help address that challenge, strengthening local construction businesses and the regional economy,” said Evan Saugstad, Chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust.
“We are very pleased that Northern Development Initiative Trust has chosen to support this worthy undertaking. This is just the type of commitment our region needs to help promote economic development in our communities and encourage our youth to consider a career in the trades,” stated Rosalind Thorn, president of the B.C. Construction Association-North.
Sue Zacharias, co-owner of United Concrete & Gravel in Williams Lake and board director on the Construction Foundation of B.C. knows firsthand of the need to reach out to youth. “Buildforce Canada is forecasting that over 30,000 skilled trades jobs will go unfilled by British Columbians over the next decade. Many of the jobs will be in the north where major projects are underway. We need to give our youth the building blocks to be able to participate in these opportunities.”
• Project Shop Class is a partnership between the Construction Associations of B.C. and the Construction Foundation of B.C.
• Buildforce Canada predicts skill shortages for the construction industry in B.C. for the next decade, which will be exacerbated by the development of an LNG industry
• Approximately 85% of the businesses operating in the construction industry have fewer than 10 employees and yet they hire and train most of the journey-persons across all sectors
• Northern Development’s $250,000 grant contribution will be used to purchase tools for high schools throughout the region that take part in the program
• To date, Northern Development has approved more than $125 million in grant funding for 1,500 economic development projects throughout central and northern B.C.
• The Trust’s funding contributions to the region have helped create more than 6,000 new jobs since 2005
Northern Development Initiative Trust
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