TradeWorx, a Home Depot Foundation initiative launched in September, brings together 10 employment social enterprise organizations, like Construct, from across Canada who serve homeless youth.
With an initial investment of $1 million, the foundation will support the organizations so they can help 100 at-risk or homeless youth receive the training they need to be successful in the skilled-trade field.
“It’s essentially a collaboration of 10 similar type of employment social enterprises to take a co-ordinated approach across Canada of this type of work to help youth transition from being uneducated or unemployed to finding a career in the trades,” said Emmy Kelly COO at BlueDoor.
“It might look different in different provinces depending on the local need and the individuals being served in that community, but overall it takes a collaborative approach to the way we’re looking to prevent and end homelessness by providing careers in the trades,” she said.
Construct was launched in 2020 to provide York Region youth with the skills necessary to become employed. The program offers in-class instruction and on-the-job work mentorship and training.
The Ontario construction industry will face a massive shortage of skilled labour and will need to recruit and train 100,000 new construction workers over 10 years to keep pace with increased demand and a record number of retirements, according to a 2020 BuildForce Canada labour market forecast report.
With the industry looking to fill vacancies and a population of youth looking for jobs it was “a great market opportunity,” said Kelly.
Construct doesn’t just train youth, it supports them and helps eliminate the barriers that prevent them from obtaining meaningful jobs.
Barriers can be anything from a lack of proper identification, social insurance number or high school diploma, not having a level of math required for a certain trade or having a criminal record.
According to Kelly, 29 per cent of participants do not have a high school diploma, 34 per cent of participants identify as having a mental, intellectual or physical disability and 43 per cent identify as being part of a racialized group.
The Construct case managers work with participants to provide help that is tailored to their needs and the supports they provide continue long after the six-week program ends.
“Our team helps each individual overcome those obstacles,” said Kelly.
In order to afford a one-bedroom apartment in York Region one has to make a salary of at least $24 per hour which, Kelly said, “further perpetuates the cycle of poverty and homelessness. So a career in the trades allows people to start at between $20 to $22 an hour and quickly climb which allows for a much more stable lifestyle and ultimately housing stability, which is BlueDoor’s mission.”
Construct has recently extended its services in Durham Region. It has plans to expand nationally “to provide leadership and work to find more intentional solutions towards ending homelessness,” said Kelly.