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Giving Dropouts a Second Chance

Updated: 31 minutes ago


The Irishtown Specialty Lions Club, Inc., a single-purpose Lions Club, has registered the Greater Moncton Skills Centre of Excellence, Inc. (the Skills Centre) as a not-for-profit corporation to deliver on its mission and vision, as follows: Mission: To empower those not in education or employment through training in the skilled trades.

Vision: We re-ignite hope and transform lives. We envisage a facility of 100,000 square feet or more, with 20 or more training stations equipped with the very latest and best tools, equipment, and technologies, with classrooms and meeting rooms, and an auditorium for presentations, graduation ceremonies, etc. We expect to transition at least 200 people not in school or work to full-time jobs, apprenticeships, or specialized training each year. When fully up-to-speed this facility is projected to generate more than $70 million annually in new consumer spending, increased employer productivity, increased tax revenues, and reduced remediation costs. Background Youth from 15-35 account for 16.9% of the New Brunswick population of 747,101, or 126,265 young people (StatsCan 2016). Those not in education, employment, or training (NEETs) accounted for 23.4% of Canada’s population in August 2020 (StatsCan). The percentage now about 20%., or 30,000 New Brunswickers. Excluded anglophone, francophone, indigenous and new Canadian youths from anywhere in the province will be welcome to the Skills Centre. Our reach will be greater, but for purposes of example, we focus on Greater Moncton. With a population of 226,000 or 30.2% of the population of NB, this yields an estimate of about 9000 NEETsin Greater Moncton. They represent substantial costs and impede social cohesion and economic development. Social assistance and welfare, mental health, medical, rehabilitation, detoxification, juvenile justice, homelessness, broken families, hopelessness, shame, with decades-long consequences are symptomatic. If 25% of Greater Moncton’s NEETs got full-time jobs at an average of $35,000, they would annually add to the local economy: · $22 million in local spending on accommodation · $11 million on transportation spending · $18 million on food, clothing, and miscellaneous · $6 million in GST · $15 Million in income taxes


Lost consumer spending and taxes with 9,000 NEETs total close to $300 million per year.


In its first year, the Skills Centre will welcome up to 192 trainees in 16 cohorts of 12 each, with more in subsequent years. $5,000 is budgeted per trainee for the program. At least 50% of graduates (96, or 4.3% of 2225) are expected to transition to full-time jobs.” A $960,000 investment will yield a $3,100,000 annual return to the region.


The Skills Centre will work inclusively and collaboratively with all education, economic, and labour force development strategy partners in the region to realize the upside of getting young people off the workforce sidelines and into fulfilling, sustainable employment, and lifestyles.


The Training Program

Recognizing 1) the unacceptable costs of having large numbers of young people not in education, employment, or training, and 2) local employers’ critical need for more skilled talent, the Irishtown Lions Club and Skills Canada New Brunswick agreed to create the Greater Moncton Skills Centre of Excellence, Inc.


The Irishtown Lions Club is the first of 48,000 Lions Clubs in over 200 countries to focus on helping 15 to 35+ year-olds not in education, employment, or training (NEETs) to develop the hope, skills, character, and resilience they need for good sustainable jobs and engaged citizenship.


With support and encouragement from Lions International, the Irishtown Lions Club will offer a four-month life and job skills “boot camp” for NEETs referred from the public school system, Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, Social Services, Portage Atlantic, Juvenile Justice, MAGMA, The Boys and Girls Clubs, etc., and self-referred. Training will be in the context of hands-on sampling of multiple skilled trades in demand by New Brunswick employers.


The program will be 20% academic and 80% practical, hands-on job skills training. Included are (Essential) Skills for Success, Safe Work Practices (including all COVID-19 public health directives), Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), and First Aid (St. John’s Ambulance). Among the trades students will sample are: Automotive Restoration and Service, Truck and Transport, Commercial Trailer, Carpentry, Building and Grounds Keeping, Building House Keeping and Maintenance, Warehousing, Basic Electrical, Carpentry, Plumbing, Welding, Metal Fabrication, Pipe Trades, Sheet Metal, Landscaping, Hologram Technology, and Heavy Equipment Technology.


Included will be social-emotional learning to combat negative social forces and become active agents of change. They will learn and apply moral principles such as justice, kindness, honesty, and integrity while enhancing their language, math, communication, and critical thinking skills.

Skills Canada New Brunswick (SCNB) is part of the national Skills Canada network. Funded by both the federal and provincial governments and supported by its many partners, SCNB’s mission is to encourage and support a coordinated New Brunswick and Canadian approach to promoting skilled trades and technologies to youth. It does this by working with schools at all levels in all regions to organize learning events and skills competitions at the regional and provincial levels. NB winners travel to annual National Competitions and biennial World Skills Competitions. The Skills Center will be the venue for Southeast NB and provincial competitions. Moreover, SCNB will host groups of students from across the province at the Skills Center to expose them to a diverse range of trade and technical career possibilities and tradespeople.


The Skills Centre will be the official national training site for Team Canada competitors to hone their skills before World Skills Competitions. As a result, Skills Canada and Skills Canada NB partners and sponsors will provide their latest and best tools, equipment, at little or no cost, to the Skills Centre.


The Skills Center will attract competitors, coaches, families, tool and equipment sponsors, and the media in the region to Moncton regularly. Every two years, they will come from across Canada to Moncton, which will be promoted as the “Skills Capital of Canada.”


All Skills Centre staff, instructors, and mentors must pass the background checks required to interact with students and minors. Under the Lions Charter, no Lions Club members can receive remuneration for their service to the Skills Centre.


Going Forward

Stewards of the Skills Centre vision have been Irishtown Lions Club Members. The current Board of Directors includes Lion Phil Jarvis (President), Lion Courtney Donovan (Vice President), Lion Robert Vautour (Secretary), Lion Doug Duff (Treasurer), Lion Julie Hebert (Membership Chair), Lion Roy MacMullin (Director), Lion Jim Metzler (Director), and Lion Tyler Mason (Director). These people also comprise the Interim Board of Directors of the Skills Centre. Our Guiding Lion, Brennan Beaumont, President of the Riverview Lions Club, and former District N1 Governor has been an invaluable and inspiring mentor to the Board.


Irishtown Lions Club leaders have presented our vision to Members of the Provincial Legislative Assembly and the Canadian House of Commons, the Departments of Education and Early Childhood Development, Postsecondary Education Training and Labour, Anglophone East School District, le District scolaire francophone Sud, Skills Canada, the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Organization, Opportunities New Brunswick, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Moncton, MAGMA, JEDI, Portage Atlantic, 3+ Corporation, the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce, NB Social Services, NB Community College, multiple Trades Unions representing in-demand trades, the Cities of Moncton, Dieppe, and Riverview City Councils, and others.


Irishtown Lions Club members represent a cross-section of our community, including those who have backgrounds in the trades and career, workforce, education, community, and youth development. As volunteers committed to serving our community, we see the Skills Centre as vital to our region. We are committed to assisting a new Board of Directors in community engagement, fundraising, mentoring and helping trainees get established in their new careers and engaged in the community. We are a “specialty” Lions club, doing what no other clubs do, and we enjoy and appreciate the support of other Lions Clubs in the region and Lions International.


Employers are ready to support and sponsor the Skills Centre because it gives them an opportunity to ‘scout’ future talent with skills, knowledge, attitudes they have difficulty finding. Their sponsorship may be financial but will more often come in the form of equipment, materials, technology, mentors, building and repair contracts, job placements at course completion, and encouraging other employers to get engaged.


What Now?

The immediate next stage of the project is establishing a Skills Centre Board of Directors of up to 15 highly respected community leaders to replace most Lions on the board. This Board will advise and assist in the final planning, financing, facility acquisition, launch, and on-going operation of the Skills Centre. Founding Board Members are now being actively recruiting.


For more information contact Lion Phil Jarvis, President of the Irishtown Lions Club and Project Coordinator, at 506 961-8585 or irishtownlionsclub@gmail.com.



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