The Manitoba Building Trades Institute (MBTI) has begun welcoming the next generations of a skilled construction workforce. The newly opened $15-million training facility in central Winnipeg represents the largest single private investment in skilled trades training in Western Canada, and is equipped to provide work-readiness training with an emphasis on technology, sustainability and diversity and inclusion.
“A coordinated model of skilled trade recruitment and training is something that our province is in desperate need of, and the building trade unions are no strangers to significant investments in training,” says Sudhir Sandhu, chief executive officer of Manitoba Building Trades. “MBTI is just another piece in the training network our unions have been offering Manitoba for decades.”
“The building trades have long held training as a top priority, to turn out the highest-skilled, most well-trained workers in the industry,” concurs Sean Strickland, executive director of Canada’s Building Trades Unions. MBTI will augment a Canada-wide network of 195 skills training centres and support efforts to awaken high school graduates to the wide possibilities of construction careers.
In addition to five technology classrooms, a computer lab, an aquaponics greenhouse and 30,000 square feet of practical training space, MBTI houses cultural and networking amenities. That includes an 80-seat auditorium, an exhibition hall and the 1919 Centennial Atrium, which is the slated venue for a curated exhibit chronicling Winnipeg’s 1919 general strike.
Training is expected to serve the recruitment needs of the unionized construction trades and support capacity building across the entire industry. Programming on offer includes: safety and first aid certifications; unionized professional development; and pre-employment and pre-apprenticeship outreach to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) recruits.
“Skilled trades are high paying jobs; you work with your head and your hands; you physically see your accomplishments daily,” observes Marc Lafond, president of Manitoba Building Trades. “Of course I’m biased, but the skilled trades are where it’s at.”