New youth trades training facility approved in Anderson Industrial Park

By Lara Fominoff @LaraFominoff on Twitter
January 10, 2018 - 11:29am Updated: January 11, 2018 - 1:00pm

LETHBRIDGE – There will soon be another trades training facility in the city.

But it won’t be located anywhere near Lethbridge College or the University. Instead, Calgary’s Ironworkers Local 725 is setting up shop in the Anderson Industrial Area, on 2 Ave. N., across the street from the old(er) Cavendish facility.

At a public hearing Monday, Jan. 8, Lethbridge’s Planning and Development Director Jeff Greene, made a presentation, asking for the current Bylaw 6092’s definition for “Manufacturing, General” to be amended to allow for the new facility to go ahead.

The Bylaw passed Second and Third Reading, and according to Ironworkers Local 725 Business Manager Rob Calver, work is on setting up the new training area is now underway.

“We came down to Lethbridge to start up our program last year, and we rented a place from Lethbridge College, and this time, we decided we would move down here permanently with all of the …stuff coming and the indigenous programs that we want to run, we needed a footprint to set up. So we found a double bay and we decided that we would rent it. It was perfect for us.”

Calver says the Local has been running training courses out of Calgary and Edmonton for years, and it made sense to also set something up here. There are a few programs they’ll be running out of their new location.

“We’re going to be doing a 10-week block training called the ‘Trades and Climate Change Program.’ And that is going to bring young high school students in, and they’re going to learn the basics of rigging safety, equipment usage, fabrication, rebar, wind turbine erection, wind turbine rebar placement so that they will have a better idea of what we do in the trades.”

Calver says it’s not so much an employment program as it is something to develop crucial trades skills that will allow them to take even more training in the future. After students complete the training, they can apply to Lethbridge College, SAIT, or another school.

After their training is completed,  Local 725 can then also help them with tuition, living allowance and book costs while they’re working towards their certificates or diplomas.

“The head of the school board down here said it was one of the best programs he’s ever seen, bar none.”

Prior to the Climate Change program, Calver adds that they’ll also initiate another one in April focused on training indigenous youth, called the “Trade Winds to Success” program.

The focus for six weeks will be for trades streaming and upgrading/preparing for an entrance exam. From there, students will take part in an eight-week intensive ironworking training course with work placement as the ultimate goal.

“The Blood Tribe has supported us, Piikani has supported us, and Saamis (Aboriginal Employment and Training Association) is going to support us with bringing young indigenous and older indigenous people to come train with us.”

The program, he explains, has brought a number of women into their Local as well, and supplies 55 employers across the province with fully trained ironworkers.

Both programs are funded through Calgary’s Educational Partnership Foundation, and by the Ironworkers Local 725 itself. There are no fees that students have to pay for their tuition and the school board will not be billed either.

“Our membership has agreed that this is the way to grow young millennials,” Calver says. “And to rejuvenate our workforce, we need to get young people out.”

Students interested in the program should approach their school counsellors for more information, and Lethbridge's Career Transitions will also help them. So far, 10 students have been accepted for training, with 15 spots in total available for grade 11 and 12 students.

“This program can allow you to go from zero to journeyperson in three or four years, and all you have to do is show up and try.

“We just give them that step-off point with good trades training and good safety training so that they can succeed.”

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