Liberals tackle trades

The Liberals would build a new trades wing at FH Collins, if elected. It would cost $10 million, said Riverdale South candidate Dan Curtis on Monday.

The Liberals would build a new trades wing at FH Collins, if elected.

It would cost $10 million, said Riverdale South candidate Dan Curtis on Monday.

“People might ask about the price tag,” he said. “But $10 million is a pittance when we are investing in our community and don’t have to bring employees in from Outside.

“If we didn’t invest in our youth, it would result in a much higher price tag.”

The Liberals don’t separate academics from trades, added Curtis, who’s executive director of Skills Canada, Yukon.

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The NDP referred to those interested in trades as “less academically inclined,” he added.

“But to us, trades and technology people are as important as lawyers and doctors.”

FH Collins was built in the 1960s, and if people suddenly learned the government wasn’t going to build a new school, they’d be “up in arms,” said Curtis.

“Well, we’re up in arms that they’re not planning on building a new trades wing.”

The new school is expected to cost $60 million. The existing shop wing was not set to be replaced, as it was built in the mid-70s and recently had its air and heating systems replaced.

If the new trades wing could be tacked onto the existing blueprints for the new school, without slowing down the project, this is what the Liberals would do, said Curtis.

If not, the trades wing will be built separately, he said.

“A new shop would be “very expensive” and “difficult to absorb in our budget,” said Education’s facilities project manager Gord deBruyn in a past interview.

“We expect to get at least another 20 to 40 years out of it,” added deBruyn.

The bricks and mortar might last another 20 years, said Curtis.

But that doesn’t cut it, when it comes to trades today, he said. And its “offensive” for them to suggest the trades wing is “fine, when it is far from the status quo.”

Trades and technology are developing in leaps and bounds, he said.

“And we’re not keeping up with needs in the workforce.”

Many of the new mining projects would prefer to hire locals from the communities, said Curtis.

“But we haven’t provided the building blocks for people in the communities to get the training they need to work in these mines.”

The Liberal fix is “a self-contained mobile trades unit,” said Klondike Liberal candidate Sandy Silver, speaking from Dawson City.

This $2.5-million mobile unit would move from community to community, supplying training in trades or technologies, where needed.

Ross River, for example, has a great welding program, said Curtis. “But it’s limited.”

The mobile unit would “add training to mining-related careers,” he said. “And it would enhance the skill set people have in the communities now.”

The Liberals also want to look at “guaranteed work placement” for Yukoners graduating from certified trades programs, said Silver.

As a teacher, Silver knows how many students drop out of school in the territory.

“Students in Dawson are dropping out of school to work in the field,” he said.

“We have to reach those students.”

The Liberals are also promising to assist tradespersons educated in Yukon through a “tools-to-work” program that would provide a tax rebate to workers purchasing tools essential to practicing trades.

They also want to create opportunities for apprentices to obtain inter-provincial certification, and plan to partner with Yukon First Nations, NGOs, the federal government, Yukon College and local unions to develop and fund an extensive marketing strategy promoting Yukon as a hub for skills and trades training, especially for those students looking for specialized accreditation to work in northern climates.

“People are already coming here to train and learn, and we want this to be the best place to train in Canada,” said Curtis.

Contact Genesee Keevil at gkeevil@yukon-news.com

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