Training program for people facing employment barriers resurrected with provincial funds
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A training program that teaches trade skills to people facing employment barriers has received a provincial funding boost, months after it was shuttered.
In late December, after negotiations with the province for funding failed, Building Urban Industries for Local Development — or BUILD — shut down its training program.
But on Tuesday, the social enterprise inked a deal with the provincial government for $250,000 in bridge funding, executive director Sean Hogan said.
“It should start to flow pretty soon and we’re going to be able to turn the training machine back on imminently, which is fantastic,” said Hogan.
“It provides jobs, opportunities and training for those who would normally not be able to access the job market.”
He said BUILD will restart its program in mid-to-late April, hiring nine trainees and bringing back key staff members.
They’ll learn construction skills, including painting and drywall work, in a classroom setting for about six weeks, then get about three months of on-the-job experience, Hogan said.
The program has trained more than 1,000 people over 16 years, many Indigenous, getting them into jobs repairing Manitoba Housing and low-income housing units, he said.
Among the program’s graduates are former gang members and others with criminal histories and people who spent time in the child-welfare system.
BUILD’s contract with the provincial government began in 2006 and ended about four years ago, Hogan said in December.
The organization got approximately $800,000 in annual provincial funding until 2018, when it received a multi-year fund from Ottawa of roughly $1 million a year, but that ended in 2020.
The organization got a $485,000 bridge grant from the province last April and renewed an agreement to be a Manitoba Housing contractor, but couldn’t get a funding deal nailed down.
Hogan said he’s hopeful BUILD will be able to get $1 million in funding through a Manitoba government request for proposals for training initiatives, which would enable the program to train another 61 people a year, as well as secure stable, long-term and yearly funding of the same amount.
“If there’s any way I can say thank you to Manitoba for standing up for us, that’s what I really want to say,” he said.
Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.