BUILD Inc is a non-profit contractor and social enterprise that provides training programs for people who face barriers to employment. CreateAction is a CCEDNet run work experience program that provides paid work placements and career-relevant opportunities for young people involuntarily not in education, employment, or training (NEET) and/or underemployed who face systemic barriers to employment. The primary goals of CreateAction are to deliver meaningful employment; improve youth well-being; provide rich resources and pathways to employment post-placement; and support and develop skills in youths with barriers to employment.
CCEDNet would like to highlight Rafael Terrain, CreateAction youth, and Sean Hogan of BUILD Inc, a CCEDNet member and CreateAction supervisor, who participated in our fourth cohort of CreateAction. We asked them a few questions to better understand the success and impact of such an important social enterprise.
What does community economic development mean to you and to BUILD INC.?
Sean Hogan: I have a friend who sums up his job description as “maximizing shareholder value”. While much of Canada’s economic system is built on that concept, it can lead to an irresponsible and unsustainable approach to business. What is left out of the equation is the health of the community where the economic development is taking place. The approach that Community Economic Development takes considers both the economic opportunities, but also the community needs. To step back from shareholder value and consider stakeholder values changes the approach to any entrepreneurial endeavor. What does the community need? Will there be unintended consequences that need to be resolved? If we reduce our profit expectations somewhat, does that mean more opportunity for everyone? BUILD takes each of these questions very seriously, as we consider the health of our community a reflection of the health of our business.
BUILD Inc. is a model social enterprise and has inspired other social entrepreneurial development. How does the training program work, and what do you think makes it so successful?
Rafael Terrain: BUILD Inc. helps train up people with barriers to employment to work in carpentry, and we work mostly doing repairs in social housing in Manitoba. I think it’s so successful because the program doesn’t judge people for their barriers but helps us through them and recognizes how much we can bring to the table when we are given that support. There’s so much potential out in the community that gets wasted I feel, but social enterprises like this helps people know we can offer something and gives us those opportunities
Sean Hogan: BUILD’s training program and social enterprise are two separate but intertwined business units under the BUILD umbrella, each with different approaches and revenue sources. The training program is a paid, six-week in-class experience that addresses gaps in education, hard-skills development, soft-skill shoring, and introduction to cultural teachings and support services. During the six-week intensive, trainees are given the tools to overcome the anxieties that threaten to drag them back to old habits and unhealthy behaviours, while equipping them to be successful and marketable in the competitive trades marketplace.
Once a trainee completes their time with BUILD’s training team, they graduate to on-the-job mentorship for three-to-four months, working with one of our many crews conducting interior renovation work for affordable housing throughout Winnipeg and Southern Manitoba. During their job-placement, trainees are introduced to real-life work stresses like deadlines, accountability, and work-pace, while still in a healthy and supportive environment. It is an excellent transition environment, moving them from the classroom, preparing them for the time when they leave BUILD and enter the workforce. BUILD can attribute its success to the innovative marriage of real-life work environments and an uncompromising commitment creating supportive opportunities. Also, one can not minimize the impact of the amount of courage that each and every trainee brings into our building. Ten years ago Elder Jules Lavalee held a ceremony for BUILD and gave us the name in Ojibwe “Songay Damowin”, which translated to English means “The House of Courage”. Trainees carry in with them an immense amount of bravery to face their pasts and make a better future every day that they walk through the BUILD doors. Our success is their success.
What would you like to share about your experience with CreateAction and BUILD Inc. What are some challenges you had, goals you set, and successes or insights you would like to share?
Rafael Terrain: My experience with CreateAction at my placement at BUILD Inc. was life changing. There were a lot of challenges going into my first employment in 10 years, but it couldn’t have been a better place to go through that transition. BUILD Inc. staff were all so supportive through the ups and downs of getting used to that new life and they helped me out with more than just a pay cheque, but as a community of support. They care about us as people and show up for us daily. They helped me to get into a real place to live, they helped me with my taxes, getting used to finances, helped me furnish my place, and helped me out through mental health struggles. CreateAction was an awesome group of people to check in with while everyone was going through a similar transition, so I didn’t feel alone but knew there were normal challenges to go through when going to work in a new place. The staff at CreateAction were also awesome and I could celebrate all the awesome new changes in my life with them and they helped give awesome workshops on tips to get through as well.
How can CCEDNet members support the work BUILD INC. is doing?
Sean Hogan: CCEDNet members can support the work BUILD is doing by remembering BUILD trainees when making HR policies and hiring. Also, provincially and federally, the collective voices of CCEDNet members are very powerful when reminding elected officials that workplace integration training programs like BUILD require revenue sources to provide the level of support and training required to work with multi-barriered individuals, preparing them for long-term, meaningful careers.
As you can see, BUILD Inc.’s vision of building prosperous communities, healthy families, and employed individuals through meaningful employment opportunities is what foregrounded the effectiveness of this youth placement. CCEDNet would like to offer gratitude to BUILD Inc for their membership in our organization and leadership in the social enterprise arena. CreateAction thanks you, Sean, for the wraparound system of care and labour that you exemplified throughout the placement experience. Rafael, we are proud of your growth and wish you all the best in your employment endeavours!