A new program at Red River College is providing essential language and construction skills training to refugees and newcomers to Manitoba who arrived in the past year, Education and Training Minister Ian Wishart announced today.
“As we’ve seen in recent months, there’s a growing need to provide support for refugees in a variety of ways including direct employment and labour market programming,” said Wishart. “We commend Red River College for its vision in developing this important program, which will link newcomers with employment opportunities and allow them to develop the skills they need to succeed in the workforce.”
The new, four-month Pathway Program to Construction Skills will focus on developing essential language skills, safety training and basic construction skills training in the areas of drywalling, masonry and flat-top roofing. Following the completion of the program, students will participate in a paid month-long, full-time work placement to further refine their skills and gain essential on-the-job experience, with the goal to support long-term employment, Wishart said.
“Red River College is proud to play such an important role in supporting Manitoba’s international, immigrant and refugee community,” said Paul Vogt, president, Red River College. “This new program is a first in Manitoba and it will not only help our newcomer refugees develop their language and literacy skills, it will also provide them access to trades training and jobs in sectors where our partners have a need for more trained workers.”
The minister noted the new program, developed in partnership with the Winnipeg Construction Association, Alpha Masonry, Allied Roofing, Econo Wall and Ceilings Ltd, Immigrant Centre, Manitoba Start and the Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations, was a community response to supporting new refugees in Manitoba.
“There are many rewarding career paths in the Manitoba construction industry and we look forward to working with RRC to bridge the gap between training and employment for newcomer refugees,” said Ron Hambley, president, Winnipeg Construction Association. “This partnership allows our industry to address skilled labour shortages while helping build a future for new members of our community.”
“A vast majority of the students entering this program already have a background in the trades,” said Kerri Caldwell, director Language Training Centre. “This new program will help bridge any gaps and provide them with immediate experience in the workplace with the goal of leading to long-term employment.”
Twenty students are currently enrolled in the first intake of the program from countries including Syria, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. A second intake is being planned for September with similar opportunities in Manitoba’s construction sector, Wishart noted.
The program is one of four pilot employment services projects under the Refugee Employment Development Initiative (REDI) for refugees and newcomers announced by the Manitoba government on Feb. 23. The province is contributing up to $225,000 to the program.