Construction: Paid training courses are very popular

The accelerated, paid construction training courses that Quebec is offering to compensate for labor shortages have met with unexpected success. More than 45,000 applications for admission were submitted by applicants seeking to work in one of the five most in-demand construction trades.

On October 30, the government unveiled its “construction offensive” and launched four training courses leading to a Certificate of Professional Studies (AEP) in carpentry and joinery, operation of construction machinery, plumbing and refrigeration.

Seven weeks later, registrations are closed and the number of candidates is in the tens of thousands.

“When the government announced these new AEP programs, we said this to ourselves with the little time we had […] We assumed there would be 2,000 to 3,000 applications and that the cohorts would not be full. And we have four times, five times, even ten times more requests than we expected. It is a great success,” said Guillaume Houle, public affairs manager at the Quebec Construction Association.

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A significant logistical challenge

At the Rimouski-Neigette training center in Bas-Saint-Laurent, the cohorts of the two programs offered filled up very quickly.

“Just a few hours after we opened registrations, we already had a full cohort in construction equipment operation. We couldn’t believe it,” said Geneviève DeRoy, assistant director of the Mont-Joli and Rimouski Vocational Training Centers.

The challenge is great because driving courses for carpenters and construction machinery have never been offered at CFRN.

“We have to leave classes by January 31st. […] We have to look for premises, rent machines, find land for construction equipment and, in the winter, also find teachers. “We faced many challenges, but fortunately the businesses in the area have given us strong support,” admitted Ms. DeRoy.

Even “rejected” students were sought after

Apparently not all prospective workers will be able to complete the training, which lasts less than six months and pays $750 a week.

At the Rimouski-Neigette Training Center (CFRN) in Bas-Saint-Laurent, less than 10% of candidates were accepted.

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“Individuals who are not selected will be contacted to potentially make up for the lack of enrollment in other programs we offer, such as plumbing and heating,” Ms. DeRoy explained. “We made an appeal to the government and mentioned to them the great interest of our entrepreneurs in accessing these people […] because we need the workers immediately,” Mr Houle added.

The government’s goal with the construction offensive was to train between 4,000 and 5,000 students who can enter the job market in summer 2024. “There were 12,000 job vacancies in the third quarter of 2023 and we expect there will be another in 2024.” “It has been an exceptional year with more than 200 million hours worked expected in 2024,” emphasized Mr Houle.

The Ministry of Education did not provide any information on Monday whether these training courses would be renewed.

When making the announcement, Quebec stressed that the measure was exceptional and unique. To carry out this offensive, an investment of $300 million is required.