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Trades training gives inmates a hand up

January 18, 2016 11:41 A.M.
KRCC inmates working in TRU pilot program. (B.C. Government video)

Half a dozen KRCC inmates hope to get into construction when they get out of jail.

Through a pilot program co-ordinated by B.C. Corrections and TRU, six local inmates have completed skills training while in custody that will qualify them for entry-level work in construction – and possible apprenticeships – upon release.

Between November 2015 and last week, the inmates completed first-level construction craft worker training through TRU’s school of trades and technology. 

“What an opportunity this has been,” said Corey, one of the participating inmates. “I hope others will be able to benefit from this program in the future. Even though I knew some of the stuff, the actual tickets will help me secure work – no question.”

“I have long promoted this type of training for those in custody,” said Lindsay Langill of TRU trades and technology. “To me, the first step towards creating positive behavioural change is through meaningful education. Education must not only be restricted to classroom theory and textbook rhetoric; it must also include a pragmatic approach involving the hands, the head and the heart.”

The program covers basic skills needed to enter the construction workforce, including operating and maintaining small tools and equipment; excavation, backfilling and compaction; scaffolding; blueprint-reading; surveying; skid-steer and mini excavator certification; and traffic control. The students also received their Occupational Level 1 first aid and construction safety training systems certification.

In the course of their studies, the students demonstrated a strong sense of teamwork, putting their new skills to work by building a heavy-duty cement foundation pad, with drainage and a roof, that will house KRCC’s portable sawmill. Outside of program hours, the adult learners – many of whom came into custody with limited education – helped each other with the math components of the training that some found challenging.

The participants wrapped up their training and wrote their Industry Training Authority (ITA) CCW Level 1 apprenticeship exam last week. All participants successfully completed the program and received a Level 1 apprenticeship credential. 

On acquiring 4,000 work hours in the trade and successfully completing Level 2, students will be eligible to obtain their Red Seal Certification in this trade. TRU plans to continue to work with local construction companies and agencies to help find employment for participants on their release.

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