Do you live in a TCHC building and are considering construction as a career? The CRAFT program is making construction trade work more accessible: supported by the Carpenters District Council of Ontario (CDCO), The Daniels Corporation, the City of Toronto and Toronto Community Housing (TCHC), the training partnership is a fourteen-week, paid pre-apprenticeship program for construction trades, available exclusively to residents of TCHC buildings. 

Piloted in 2013, the program (CRAFT stands for Creating Real Apprenticeships For Toronto) has garnered much success in the years since, being implemented throughout the most recent phases in the long-term revitalization of Toronto's Regent Park community, itself home to a high concentration of TCHC homes. To curb negative trends, providing apprenticeship opportunities to those living in marginalized communities is an important step in expanding the workforce while supporting pockets of the city and specific socioeconomic demographics that require an extra boost in employment. 

Tradespersons at work, image by Jack Landau

The Daniels Corporation has taken an instrumental role in the process, having constructed several buildings in the Regent Park community with CRAFT participants since the program's inception. Heela Omarkhail, Vice President of Social Impact at The Daniels Corporation, tells UrbanToronto “Daniels has been a proud founding partner of the CRAFT Program since 2016, which has provided paid training, employment placements, and direct entry into unionized construction for over 40 residents of Regent Park and surrounding TCHC communities,”

CRAFT brings on pre-apprenticeships with four weeks of paid in-class training, ten weeks of paid job placement, travel subsidies, and the provision of the basic hand tools and safety equipment that would typically be purchased out of pocket. These paid hours—$14.25/hr throughout the in-class and job placement components, and tools provided at no cost—allow CRAFT participants to pursue their career training without having to sacrifice an income, especially important for residents of subsidized housing who often don't have the spare time to dedicate to unpaid training programs.

“We recognize that a diverse employment force is essential for equity and the continued growth of the construction industry. To that end, the CRAFT Program has been able to successfully create opportunities for racialized youth within the industry while also creating opportunities for our employment partners to broaden their engagement in one of Toronto’s most diverse neighbourhoods,” stated Heela Omarkhail.

Construction in Toronto's Regent Park area, image by Forum contributor AlbertC

Wages paid out to participants for the first four weeks of in-school training are funded by; the YMCA of Greater Toronto for the first two weeks, The Daniels Corp for week three, and TCHC for week four. A ten-week work placement follows, with wages then covered by the respective employers. Employers accepting participants for the work placement period are eligible to receive a wage subsidy of $4.00-per hour per-participant paid out by the Ministry of Labour Training and Skills Development.

"The Carpenters are proud of our relationship with the CRAFT program and all stakeholders involved," said Mike Yorke, President of the CDCO. "We know we are changing lives. That’s what’s important."

Furthering the program, CRAFT graduates are now being integrated into the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades' (CCAT) annual Journeypersons graduation event in November. This event honours the approximately 100 General Carpenter and Floor Covering apprentices per year who complete their apprenticeships.

You can leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

* * *

UrbanToronto has a new way you can track projects through the planning process on a daily basis. Sign up for a free trial of our New Development Insider here.