May 14, 2010
FEATURE | General & Trade Contracting
What is the W.R.A.P. in Hamilton for skills training?
Riding on the success of its first year, the Work Ready Aboriginal People (W.R.A.P.) program is placing another crop of young adults from the Six Nations into introductory training at 12 different union-certified trades training centres in the Hamilton and Brantford area this fall.
The program gives students exposure to a host of different building trades, offering up a mix of theory and practical, says Brandi Jonathan, program coordinator, W.R.A.P..
Among the training centres that the students will visit over the 12-week period this fall are: Painters & Allied Trades District Council 46, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 105, Sheet Metal Workers Training Centre Local 537, Carpenters’ Local 18 and Heat and Frost Insulators Local 95.
What “makes the program unique,” says Jonathan, is that students are exposed to so many different trades — largely because some of the training centres provide training for more than one trade.
Safety is a big part of the curriculum for the W.R.A.P. students. Training in fall arrest, WHMIS, first aid, traffic control and propane handling and storage is a sampling, says Jonathan.
Students will be evaluated not only on their aptitude for the trades, but also on their participation, teamwork, punctuality and ability to follow directions. “Those are the kinds of skills they will need in any field of work,” Jonathan says.
Of the 15 students in the W.R.A.P. program last year, three are now in trade apprenticeships while three others are working in construction, the program coordinator points out. Others are being assisted in academic upgrading to meet apprenticeship trade prerequisites.
The W.R.A.P. program is operated through Grand River Employment and Training with funding provided by the federal government.
The IBEW local in Hamilton will host the W.R.A.P. students in November for three days. Training director Clarke Hurley says safety will be emphasized but the students will also be educated on the range of work in the field.
“Many people think that electricians only work in houses,” says Hurley. “Not so. There are other apprenticeship avenues they can take, including industrial, construction maintenance and electrical lineman.”
Along with basic wiring applications (how a light switch circuit works, for example), the students will do some basic practical exercises, such as bend conduit to fit around corners, says Hurley. “Three-quarters of an apprenticeship is about hands-on skills and the ability to take direction and use that direction in the future when no one’s there to help you.”
It is the second time W.R.A.P. has come to Local 105.
Carpenters’ Local 18 will also host students for three days (Oct. 29-31) at its Hamilton training centre. Safe operation of power-elevated work platforms (zoom-boom or scissor lift) and scaffold safety awareness and assembly are on the agenda, says Bill Baldwin, the local’s training coordinator.
Students will get the opportunity to partake in the assembly of various scaffolding frame styles including single and three-bays up to three high, he says. “We push the safety factor, that’s what we’re here for.”
Baldwin says W.R.A.P.’s objective of exposing the students to so many building trades is a sound philosophy because it lays the groundwork for a better understanding of what different trades do and, in some cases, how they collaborate to complete a project.
To qualify for W.R.A.P., students need to be a minimum of two credits short of a high school diploma. Those that pass the 12-week training follow up with six weeks of upgrading in physics and math for the last two credits towards completing their Grade 12, says Jonathan.
W.R.A.P.. is partly modeled after the Hammer Heads program, which offers apprenticeship skills training to kids in under-resourced communities.
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