Building futures in skilled trades

person walking through construction site

Children and youth involved in the child welfare system face many barriers to building a successful future for themselves, making pursuing meaningful employment seem like an impossible dream to these vulnerable young people.

Achieving higher education and finding stable employment can completely transform the lives of youth from care, and help break the cycle of abuse, neglect, and poverty for themselves and future generations.

This is why Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, and Family and Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County co-designed a pilot program to help youth from care achieve a higher education and gain sustainable and rewarding employment in the skilled trades.

In order to remove barriers that stand in their way, students will receive a comprehensive array of wrap-around supports, including educational upgrading, soft skills needed for employment, financial aid, formal skilled-trades training and mentorship from existing students.

Launching in 2019, this two-year pilot program is supported by the The W. Garfield Weston Foundation. “The Foundation is extremely proud of its long history of supporting young Canadians to achieve their educational goals ”said Eliza Mitchell, Director for The W. Garfield Weston Foundation.

“This pilot program will empower more young Canadians to pursue valuable and long-lasting careers in the trades.”

This program will not only support vulnerable youth in the Guelph-Wellington-Waterloo area to qualify for and find meaningful employment in the skilled trades; but will provide valuable learnings and results for expansion to other regions with local child welfare agencies, colleges, and funding partners, ensuring even more youth from care have the opportunity to pursue a career in the skilled trades.

“As the need for a well-educated workforce increases and there are recognized shortages of skilled workers across the country, we also recognize that youth aging out of care face particular challenges, among them lack of work experience, lack of relevant training, and lack of job search skills,” said Dr. John Tibbits, President, Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.

“We are pleased to partner with Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, Family and Children’s Services of Guelph & Wellington County, and The W. Garfield Weston Foundation to deliver a pilot skilled trades education program offering full wrap-around supports.”