Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council

Starting in 1991 as a regional industry training council, the Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council—Industrial-CommercialInstitutional (NSCSC) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to human resource and skills development within the ICI sector of the industry. The NSCSC has gained international attention with its approach to exposing students, newcomers, and anyone and everyone interested in a construction trade or management occupation. Working in partnership with industry organizations, NSCSC directors and staff provide human resource solutions and labour market information to industry partners including federal and provincial departments and agencies, public and private training institutions, associations, organizations, groups, and individual Nova Scotians. “We focus on the part of the sector that constructs anything bigger than a house and not part of a road,” said Trent Soholt, Executive Director/Project Manager. “NSCSC is responsive to both the provincial and federal government in terms of research development, providing industry support, and dissecting labour market information.” 2

Trent Soholt, Executive Director 3

Currently, the NSCSC is supporting a post-pandemic economic expansion in the province—an anticipated $4 billion worth of ICI projects in the next ten years, says Soholt. “Because of our unique relationship with the provincial government, we’re involved in a lot of meetings to help inform the planning of publicly funded projects,” says Soholt. “And because of the relationship we have with the industry, we get involved in a lot of private sector planning as well. We promote the NSCSC as the industry’s help desk, so to speak.” The NSCSC’s periodic snapshots of the industry provide vital information on the labour force. Data includes age ranges, demographics, geographical activity, supply and demand models, expected training needs, etc. This insight helps public and private partners to plan what will be built over the next two to ten years. “Through committees and industry involvement, we’ve built models now that can forecast what that labor need will be to do those projects, right down to the trade and to the personal skills required,” says Soholt. A group photo of NSCSC staff with Trades Professionals in front of the Mobile Construction Experience 4

Looking down the lens of future projects, the NSCSC plays an integral role in educating Nova Scotians about the construction trades and apprenticeship system. The NSCSC’s pioneering and unique education program has garnered international attention and has Soholt fielding inquiries from similar agencies across the world. TRADES EXHIBITION HALL (TEH) “It was in 2012 when we really saw a bit of a shift in the labor market and a real need for youth and career awareness, as well as engaging our equity deserving partners,” says Soholt. “We embarked on an idea to create a facility for those career seekers and in 2014, we opened up the Trades Exhibition Hall. Originally conceived to be a construction library where materials and tools could be presented along with models of projects, it evolved to become a fun, interactive facility for youth and career-seekers to learn about occupations in the ICI sector, a place where visitors could talk to construction professionals and get a chance to try things out first-hand. A view of the parked Mobile Construction Experience closed up and ready for deployment A wide view of one side of the Trades Exhibition Hall 5

A Trades Exhibition Hall participant from the Indigenous Youth Skilled Trades Fair learning about welding from a Pipe Trades Professional Indigenous Youth Skilled Trades Fair participants work together to build a miniature structure with various materials with guidance from Trades Exhibition Hall Coordinator Rebecca 6

The concept picked up quickly, and visiting groups grew from one a month to several a week in no time. “It really has taken off in terms of being a show piece for the industry,” says Soholt. “When groups come to visit, we call on our industry partners and our trade professionals to walk visitors through what a day in the life of a carpenter might be, or what a day in the life of an operating engineer might be, or a plumber or an ironworker or a millwright or a boilermaker, project manager, for instance.” Developed in partnership with industry and the Province of Nova Scotia, the TEH features 14 interactive exhibits (booths) where visitors can learn about construction careers by participating in a variety of hands-on demonstrations and speaking with industry professionals at different stages of their careers. MOBILE CONSTRUCTION EXPERIENCE (MCE) Building on the success of the TEH, the Department of Education reached out to NSCSC in 2018 about creating a mobile version of the TEH that could commute to all areas of the province to engage rural communities. Called the Mobile Construction Experience (MCE), the NSCSC unveiled a mobile construction experience in 2019 in the form of a 53-foot, custom-built, solar-powered trailer built to showcase Industrial-Commercial-Institutional (ICI) construction sector careers. A wide view of the front of the Trades Exhibition Hall with coordinator Rebecca 7

Trent Soholt - NSCSC, Executive Director introducing the Trades Exhibition Hall to participants from the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum Trades Exhibition Hall participants from the Indigenous Youth Skilled Trades Fair trying the paint simulator 8

Hands-on activities are guided by industry professionals at each of the booths. The TEH and the MCE both help to tap into the communities and engage people that will be the province’s future ICI industry. “We took a scaled-down version of our TEH on the road, to incredible success,” smiles Soholt. “We had thousands of visitors very, very quickly. We have requests from schools all around the province.” “It was created out of necessity,” says Soholt. “We have brought the industry tangibly to the classroom in a way that participants can experience the industry safely. It’s been quite phenomenal to see the evolution of this educational model. Now we have mentors who first learned of their trade in one of our exhibitions. It’s very rewarding.” For more information, please visit A Labourer trades professional teaching a Trades Exhibition Hall participant A Mobile Construction Experience participant tries the welding simulator with guidance from a Pipe Trades Professional A Sheet Metal trades professional teaching a group of adults and children at the Trades Exhibition Hall Open House A Pipe Trades professional teaching a Trades Exhibition Hall participant 9

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