The Central Ontario Building Trades (COBT) Hammer Heads program announced Tuesday, Feb. 12 it will receive $100,000 in funding from the Ontario government, through its Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program.
“We’re grateful that the government is starting to recognize and invest in our youth,” said business manager and COBT director James St. John at Weston Arena, where the announcement took place.
Hammer Heads is a hands-on training program based in Weston that provides employment-based training within the construction industry and gives youth the chance to do placements as electricians, plumbers and steamfitters, and resource laborers to name a few.
“This money will help offset the costs of transportation and some of the money spent on education upgrades for youth,” St. John said.
The funding will allow the program to train an additional 15 new Hammer Heads to the free 14-week program. It also provides all textbooks, tools and safety equipment required free of charge.
Both Ward 11 Councilor Frances Nunziata and MPP Laura Albanese were present for the announcement and couldn’t be happier for the York South-Weston youth who will get the opportunity to participate in the program.
“It’s a good step forward,” said Albanese. “And it’ll make a difference for our youth.”
To be able to join the construction workforce, certain high school courses are a minimum requirement, according to St. John. Those courses include Grade 12 English and math credits, and for electricians a Grade 12 physics course. Part of the educational upgrade is to help those who are lacking these credits and allow them to receive their General Education Development certificate.
The pre-apprenticeship aspect provides youth in high-priority neighborhoods with the skills needed to move toward full apprenticeship career opportunities.
“A lot of these youth come from Toronto Community Housing or are on Ontario Works,” said St. John. “Once they go through our program we link them to a career, not a temporary job. And we’ve made a huge impact already.”