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Innovative program launched in Barrie to address Ontario's skilled trades gap

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A first-of-its-kind program offering three months of rigorous training in residential construction to 15 skilled trade workers who encountered employment obstacles will take place in Barrie to address a growing need across the province.

"In the next three years, we're going to have about 700,000 skilled tradespeople who are going to retire," said Matthew Seagrim, Meridian's chief digital and marketing officer. "And such a need for affordable housing."

The program, Reframe, offers hands-on skill development, networking and paths to enhanced careers.

"There's so much offered in the program that you can hone in on," said Andrew Lariviere, one of the participants.

Upon completing the program, the participants will be "employment ready," according to Community Builders founder Brandon Day.

"They get tools through the program; they get safety certifications, PPE, everything they need to be successful in the trades," added Day.

A soft launch was held Monday morning at the Barrie Community Builders warehouse.

The program was made possible thanks to a partnership between Meridian Credit Union and Community Builders and a $250,000 Meridian for Good social impact grant.

Barrie Mayor Alex Nuttall, who worked in skilled trades before shifting to politics, was in attendance. As was former Grey Cup champion, HGTV star, and Reframe ambassador Sebastian Clovis.

"What I love the most about building is you don't need a business card because your work speaks for you," explained Clovis. "If you do good work, you'll never be out of work."

The 15 participants are in the first of four cohort groups that will be trained in the Reframe program through the end of the year. At that point, the program will be re-evaluated to determine a possible return in 2025.

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