College partners with province on new training program for refugees

A new program at Red River College is providing essential language and construction skills training to newcomer refugees who have arrived in Manitoba over the last year.

Announced today, the new Pathway Program to Construction Skills is one of four pilot employment projects launched recently by the Manitoba government under the Refugee Employment Development Initiative (REDI) for newcomers.

“Red River College is proud to play such an important role in supporting Manitoba’s international, immigrant and refugee community,” says Red River College president Paul Vogt. “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 four-month program will help participants develop essential language skills, safety training and basic construction skills training in the areas of drywalling, masonry and flattop roofing. After completing the program, students will participate in a month-long, paid work placement to further refine their skills and gain essential on-the-job experience.

“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,” says Education and Training Minister Ian 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 needed to succeed in the workforce.”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 (MANSO), the pathway program 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,” says Winnipeg Construction Association president Ron Hambley. “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,” says Language Training Centre director Kerri Caldwell. “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 (shown above) 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 planned for September with similar opportunities in Manitoba’s construction sector.