The OGCA is very excited about the new collaboration that we have with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and their Specialized Trades Exploration Program (STEP) to ICI Construction Program.
What is this program and how will it benefit the OGCA members? Allow me to provide you with more details.
The STEP to ICI Construction Program allows students to gain hands-on experience in ICI construction while earning their high school diploma. This program has been developed to improve school-to-work transition for high-school students by providing them with the essential skills they need to prepare for future construction careers. This program is a link for employers and potential new youth to enter into construction.
Elvy Moro, the STEP to Construction coordinator, notes the following in a letter to the OGCA.
“I have been working on this program for just over 16 years, and the results have been amazing. Students through Co-op placements and field trips are finally getting a sneak preview of various trades and careers in construction before they start a career. They become more focused at school as well as identifying a future direction in construction. The make up of students in the STEP class resembles our nation Canada. Having grown up in a construction house-hold and occasionally helping my dad, who was a brick mason, I was accustomed to the construction industry as a young student. Today, many young Canadians know they want “hands on” work, but don’t understand the different trades and needs in the construction market. Our challenge as educators and employers is to prepare for the future by recruiting our young adults, allowing them to earn the high wages and benefits associated with many trades. This program is currently placing 44 students per semester throughout the Toronto District Schools Board, with various construction builders in the GTA.”
So why is this program so important?
This ingenious program allows for students to experience, first-hand, all of the possibilities that are offered on an ICI construction site. This not only includes all of the well-known construction possibilities such as electrical, plumbing and carpentry, but all of the various unknown and highly lucrative work in every aspect of ICI construction. In short, this program allows for students to experience a highly tactile interaction with each and every group on an ICI jobsite.
This partnership provides safe environments for students to experience an ICI construction job site. The students are able to watch and interact with various trades, have the opportunity to perform tasks, and more importantly, be able to discuss career options with people working in the trades. In short, it gives young people a safe access point to enter into construction and the exposure on a site to really assess their personal strengths with the various opportunities available.
The students in the program are prepared by the TDSB and arrive on site armed with the legislated training in: Working at Heights; WHMIS; 4 Step Awareness, and New Entry to Construction Training. They are also equipped by the TDSB with the requisite safety boots, hard hats, safety glasses and work clothing. Additionally, each student has their WSIB premiums fully covered by the Ministry of Education. The employer does not need to expend any monies to attract these students, only agree to have one student on a single jobsite and provide a safe learning environment for the student per semester to understand what ICI construction entails.
This is a WIN-WIN-WIN scenario, with the student gaining exclusive access to OGCA ICI construction, our members obtaining a vital new access point for youth to enter into construction and the TDSB functioning as the facilitator to ensure that students are trained, coached and administered so that they are actively participating.
This has been discussed at the OGCA Board of Directors for a number of months, and initially, we had intended to launch this in September, to coincide with the start of the school year, but COVID-19 greatly diminished the possible placements for this to really succeed. So, now the OGCA is looking for members to volunteer sites commencing in February 2022 to facilitate the placement of approximately 15 students. We are commencing with one classroom to assess the demand, and hopefully, within short order, we can expand to two or three times this amount.
Why am I being overly optimistic with the success of this program and noting that we can probably surpass our intended target with little effort?
My optimism is born from the amazing response this program has already had from simply mentioning this at our Board of Directors meeting in Quebec City. The OGCA contractors clearly see the benefit in this program, and five Board members have already volunteered their sites to place students. I know this program will succeed because of the amazing engagement our members continue to exhibit. The program is officially launching in February, but these five members have already engaged with STEP to ICI Construction to immediately place students! This demonstrates not only the level of interest but also the need and desire to have more youth exposed to ICI construction.
For our members outside of the GTA area and noting that this is once again a Toronto centric opportunity, please note that Elvy Moro has been actively engaging with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to have this program replicated in all school boards throughout the province. And when that occurs, the OGCA wants to work alongside Elvy and all of the school boards to expand this program exponentially.
The OGCA is incredibly excited with the launch of this program and we see the yet untapped potential in the STEP to ICI Construction as we embark on this collaboration. Special thanks to Elvy Moro for his steadfast vision of this program and his desire to actively engage with the OGCA. Together, we will accomplish great things!
Should anyone want to discuss their interest and/or involvement in the STEP to ICI Construction Program, or if you require any assistance from the OGCA, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 905.671.3969.