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Building a dragon boat gives job seekers new carpentry skills

Fifteen job seekers have gained new boat-building and carpentry skills through a work experience project focused on this year’s Dragon Boat BC Festival in Vancouver.

The province provided $288,643 to Dragon Boat BC to create a dragon boat building program that helped unemployed and at-risk people develop marketable skills in boat building, finishing carpentry and painting. The group created a full-scale dragon boat prototype and a fully finished boat that will compete in the 2019 Concord Pacific Dragon Boat BC Festival from June 21-23, 2019.

“This program brings together skilled workers and people experiencing unemployment looking to add new skills to their resume,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Dragon Boat BC recognized an opportunity to help people gain work experience and expand community sport participation. It’s these innovative partnerships and a community commitment that help create more opportunities for people in our province.”

Both groups worked closely with a project team led by an aerospace engineer, project manager, professional shipwright, multi-generation canoe carver and paddlers. The teams used high-tech and modern aerospace materials to develop a new high-quality, lightweight and B.C.-built design.

“All of the program participants showed drive and determination,” said Ann Phelps, executive director of Dragon Boat BC. “It isn’t an easy thing to learn a new skill, and everyone who helped us build this boat worked hard to gain transferable experience that will support them in their employment path. The funding gave us the opportunity to introduce people to new skills and a new sport, and build something we can share with the community.”

The boats will be used to support community paddling programs in B.C. to give more people an opportunity to try the sport and become part of a growing community of paddlers.

“I knew that this program would help me build a stronger resume, but I didn’t realize just how much it would change my life,” said Angela Gleeson, program participant. “My time here has grown into a full-time position with Dragon Boat BC and I can say first-hand that other participants, and now friends, have gone on to work in jobs because of the life skills and resume-building work that we accomplished together here.”

Funding for this and other projects is provided through WorkBC’s Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP aims to increase employment opportunities for unemployed British Columbians through partnerships, research and innovative job creation projects.

Quick Facts:

  • Approximately $15 million will be invested in CEP projects throughout B.C. in 2019-20.
  • Since the program began in 2012, more than 381 CEP projects have helped local communities, employers and people looking for work.
  • Job creation partnerships are one of five CEP streams available throughout the province.

Learn More:

Learn about how Community and Employer Partnerships are helping local communities:  www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships.aspx

Job creation partnerships: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships/Job-Creation-Partnerships.aspx

Dragon Boat BC: https://dragonboatbc.ca/

2019 Concord Pacific Dragon Boat BC Festival: https://concorddragonboatfestival.ca/

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