A rallying call to build Alberta’s trades talent

Published on July 04, 2024

“Because of what you're doing, we're moving forward and we're training great people to do great things.”

Attending NAIT to take his Heavy Equipment Technician apprenticeship changed Corin Hoskins' life.  

When he first came to NAIT, however, Hoskins admits he was overwhelmed. But the more he learned, the more he realized his potential. Instructors saw that potential, too, and encouraged him to keep going. So, he did, until he completed his fourth and final intake in the spring of 2024.  

To cap it all off, Hoskins was thrilled to receive a BILD Alberta Scholarship for Construction Careers

“I was over the moon excited when I received the scholarship. It’s awesome when you get that email and you get that validation for all that hard work that you put in,” he says. “That means the world.” 

BILD Alberta Scholarships encourage careers in construction

Alberta’s homebuilders are facing one of the largest construction challenges they have ever experienced. In that, there are not enough skilled workers to keep pace with demand for housing. That shortfall has implications for all Albertans. 

There’s a strong link between the shortfall of skilled workers and the continued housing shortage, which is causing prices to steadily rise. Forecasts from Canadian Apprenticeship Forum indicate the need for an additional 60,000 registered apprentices country-wide by 2025.  

Something needed to be done to help solve the issue, so in 2022, Jay Westman, chair and CEO of Jayman Built, created the BILD Alberta Scholarship for Construction Careers initiative. He pitched in $2 million to support the student awards, and asked industry peers to rally together to raise funds to help people seek trades careers. Several industry leaders were quick to answer the call, bringing the total to more than $7 million to support student awards at NAIT and SAIT. 

“I have chosen to lead by example and lead this investment campaign to make a notable impact in overcoming the financial concerns of students, while also bolstering our industry’s much-needed construction capacity across Alberta,” says Westman. “This is an Alberta initiative with an Alberta solution.” 

With the goal to fundraise $15 million, the BILD initiative will potentially fund some 3,000 student awards for NAIT and SAIT students and remove barriers to trades careers for the next generation. 

The BILD Alberta Scholarship funds student awards for students in 17 eligible programs at NAIT. To date, $158,750 in student award funding has been disbursed to 81 students.  

Corin Hoskins is grateful to count himself among them.  

“Without the trades, we wouldn't be where we are as a country, as a province, as a nation, as a world. Because of what you're doing, we're moving forward and we're training great people to do great things,” says Hoskins, adding that he’s determined to get his red seal and take another apprenticeship. 

Expanding interest in the trades

The BILD Alberta initiative aims to increase diversity across the trades. So far, 21% of all BILD Construction Scholarship recipients have been female.

Donations have also funded youth engagement activities. Last year, 275 youth were on campus for Try a Trade, Next in Trades and Jill of All Trades events

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