A new program has been launched to address New Brunswick’s issues around skilled workers in the labour force.
The three year pilot project has been developed to target recent welding graduates and will provide intensive training enroute to becoming a certified journeyperson in the trade.
The Regional Education Welder Apprentice Retention and Development (REWARD) program comes amid a looming shortage in the skilled trades sector.
“We see a large number of senior experienced welders retiring in the next five to ten years and we need to have a strong program in place that’s going to replace them with skilled workers,” said David Simon, Manager of Construction and Turnarounds for Irving Oil.
The apprentices will spend two thousand hours per year on Irving Oil related projects and one day per week in the training centre.
Those who were chosen say they appreciate the opportunity they are being given.
“We’re going to be able to learn from the best and be able to become the best we can be,” said Evan Ross.
Jenna Novak, one of two women in the program, says she hopes to be able to stay in the province over the long term.
“I spent five years out west and I have little boys here so being able to stay in Saint John and New Brunswick is amazing. So I will stay here as long as they keep me,” she said.
Part of the uniqueness is taking away the uncertainty of having to find an employer for an apprenticeship.
“We’ve mapped out the next three years for these apprentices so they’re going to know where they’re going, when they have to be there,” said Rick Smith of the Plumbers & Pipefitters Union.
“They’re not going to going out looking for work. The work is there for them.”
The new program is set to begin in August.
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