When you start with a strong foundation, anything is possible

When you start with a strong foundation, anything is possible

Aug. 08, 2022

When you start with a strong foundation, anything is possible. For the architects of the Tools in the Trades program, the foundations laid just over a year ago have resulted in not only exponential growth, but also a way to help build successful futures for Canadians interested in working in the trades.

““In a little over a year, the program has gone from starting with only a director to now employing more than 30 employees providing several roles necessary to pull off 80 boot camps during the 2022-23 fiscal year,” Craig Brockwell, director of external affairs for Support Ontario Youth, said. “The boot camps, after just one year, have been one of the most successful programs in this space in the last 50 years.”

“Our goal last year was to sign 140 new apprenticeship registrations and we achieved the signing of 621 registrations at the end of our project year. Participation included higher than normal levels of those in under-represented groups in the skilled trades such as young women, newcomers, persons of colour, disabled, and Indigenous youth to name just a few.”

The program is the brainchild of the Support Ontario Youth’s team, based on the needs of employers and apprentices, discovered during recruiting and signing of apprentices. The intent was to offer a program that encouraged youth to explore skilled trades as a viable option and prepare them to enter the skilled trades workforce.

Interested parties must apply for the daylong boot camps. Successful applicants are invited to a local camp and receive a trade-appropriate tool kit. They also receive training in their particular trade, networking opportunities, and counselling on key self-marketing efforts like resumé writing, interview skills, and financial advice that helps prepare participants for work in the skilled trades.

The program attracts participants with varying degrees of experience who are interested in the combination of skills development, networking, and confidence-building activities the camps offer.

“The attendees range from completely green to the skilled trades to some that are already working in the skilled trades — and some already with a (registered training agreement),” Brockwell explained. “Ages have ranged from high school students to some as old as 40 and looking for a career change. As well, many are newcomers looking to gain employment in high-paying jobs.”


In the case of the Tools in the Trades boot camp program, success has bred further success. As the program continues to gain traction in the industry, it serves to encourage exponential growth and interest in the program.

“One of the challenges has been expanding our presence within the trades space through various media tools,” he added. “Consequently, more and more partners have come on board promoting the program. Awareness of the program has grown to the point that now we receive inquiries daily asking us to send resumes to (employers), as well as asking to participate in the boot camps.”


This is a program that relies on external sources of funding to survive and the hope is that government and donors, encouraged by its success, continue to support it.


“This is a program that cannot exist without government funding, so we are beholden to government funding. We believe this is a program that is a public good and must be supported through governments,” he added. “Having said this, we are a registered charity and rely somewhat on the goodwill of interested donors.

“Ultimately, we would like the program to provide boot camps in more registered trades and offer more programming such as training modules for those we sign into an RTA.”

The organization is currently accepting applications for over 25 construction boot camps alone from late July through late October. That’s in addition to eight industrial and seven motive power boot camps. A full list of available camps is available at toolsinthetrades.ca.


Original article: https://www.thestar.com/sponsored_sections/building-tomorrow/when-you-start-with-a-strong-foundation--anything-is-possible.html


Employment Ontario Program