English for Construction Purposes to help newcomers

Posted: October 23, 2023

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Students at an MCSC Course

Manitoba Construction Sector Council (MCSC) is in the final stages of developing its English for Construction Purposes Course

For any construction company, communication is a key component of managing and completing any project successfully, especially when it comes to understanding the basics of the English Language— the prominent language used in the construction industry in Manitoba. That’s why Manitoba Construction Sector Council (MCSC) is in the final stages of developing its English for Construction Purposes Course. This program will provide newcomers to the construction industry in Manitoba an opportunity to increase their English communication skills.  

“We noticed that there was a language gap in reference to an influx of newcomers wanting to get into the workforce,” shares Ramir Diaz, MCSC’s Education and Training Manager. The overall goal for this course is to have the new entrants or newcomers gain a better understanding of what the construction culture and construction language is all about.” Specifically, designed for entry-level positions, English for Construction Purposes will help participants learn some of the basic, yet important terminology used on construction sites or reading construction documents. “Upon completion of the program, participants will have a solid understanding of what it’s like to have these important communication skills, supported by terminology and symbols when it comes to being around a construction worksite and communicating with others on the job,” says Diaz.  

To be hosted at the Winnipeg Construction (WCA) Winnipeg Construction Association (WCA) training centre and one of Manitoba Heavy Construction Association’s (MHCA) training centres, the first two cohorts of English for Construction Purposes will begin in January 2024. Participants will be attending bi-weekly classes for two hours (3 p.m – 5 p.m) for a total of 40 hours. Some of the key take-aways include: 

  • Improve communication skills with workers on the job site 
  • Explore WHMIS symbols and their meaning 
  • Gain new knowledge regarding construction safety in Manitoba 
  • Become more familiar with construction signs and symbols 
  • Gain an understanding of action verb phrases 
  • Identify the main characteristics of commercial, residential, and road construction in Manitoba 
  • And more! 

Ryan Kindret is the Principal Manager of Kindret Landscape Group: Landscaping, Concrete & Tree Services He estimates that 20% of his workforce comprise of newcomers, mainly from Ukraine, South Sudan, and the Philippines. While newcomers generally come with the skills they need to do the job from past experience in their homeland, having basic English language training would be an asset, especially as they advance in their careers. “English helps when the newcomers want to take on more responsibility. There are more complex safety requirements on a project, getting into more reporting and project management. It gives the newcomers more opportunity to move forward in their industry when they can communicate more effectively.” 

Working on busy roadways and construction sites providing essential navigation services, Breanne Turner is an On-Street Service Supervisor at ATS Traffic who often works with employees who are newcomers. Turners says she sees the potential and value of the English for Construction Purposes.  

“It could make the transition of training to be certified and competent, faster and more streamlined,” says Turner. “And there’s the potential to spend less time recruiting and free time up to do more day-to-day business stuff.”  

According to a recent WCA survey, construction companies such as ATS Traffic and the Kindret Landscaping Group are not alone in seeing the benefit of MCSC’s English for Construction Purposes. The poll revealed that the majority of companies surveyed (62%) said they would be interested in sending their staff to English language training.  

That kind of initial response is not surprising to Diaz, but still encouraging to get that kind of advanced feedback from the industry. “This course has the enormous potential to strengthen the bond between the newcomer and their employer, which supports retaining that employee over the long run as they feel more confident in their jobs, and on track for advancement.” MCSC is expecting 30 or more participants in the WCA/MHCA cohorts starting in January.   

For more information about MCSC’s English for Construction Purposes, please reach out to Ramir Diaz at rdiaz@mbcsc.com  



English for Construction Purposes to help newcomers


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