Grant provides help for tuition for trades training at university

NANAIMO – Entry-level trades training made more affordable for people with disabilities.

People with disabilities will soon be able to enrol in entry-level trades training at Vancouver Island University thanks to a $75,000 grant from the provincial government.

According to the Ministry of Advanced Education, the money comes from the Skills Development Employment Benefit, which helps employment insurance-eligible people lacking labour skills. Glynis Steen, associate dean for the university’s trades and applied technology program, said it will aid in the development of the 12-week Supported Trades Entry Program.

The pilot program will lead to employment in the construction industry.

“[Participants] will start out with employability skills, life skills and will work towards a construction trades helper background,” said Steen. “The students will go out on a practicum placement and then they’ll come back for a week of employability skills at the end.”

The students will write a resumé, learn some interview skills and apply what they’ve learned during in the program to look for employment, she said.

The university is still in the development stages, Steen said, and it is hoped that the program will begin in March.

“We’re working with our student services group on determining the eligibility requirements and where we could attract the people that would be appropriate for this program,” said Guy Ellis, dean of trades and applied technology.

A total of $1.5 million in one-time funding was available and VIU was one of 20 public post-secondary institutions to receive the $75,000.

“We’re using the grant to help support the program in terms of our students working in our construction area in our shops, working towards also math and literacy skills too as well, because we’re integrating that into the program as well and the practicum placements too, so that grant is used to support those pieces in the program,” said Steen.