Saturday, March 7, 2009

Unemployed Young Women Obtain Carpentry Training -VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA

Unemployed Young Women Obtain Carpentry Training and Tools for Life at the RONA Vancouver 2010 Fabrication Shop
YWCA-referred trainees earn job skills while helping build Canada's Games

updated 12:00 p.m. CT, Thurs., March. 5, 2009

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - RONA inc. (TSX: RON), the largest Canadian retailer and distributor of hardware, renovation and gardening products, is celebrating the arrival of a cohort of YWCA-referred women trainees at the RONA Vancouver 2010 Fabrication (Fab) Shop, the woodworking facility for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, located in Vancouver's inner city.

The 16 young women, beyond school age and having experienced significant barriers to employment, will receive 30 weeks of apprenticeship training from accredited BC Red Seal carpenters. During time spent at the Fab Shop they will benefit from employment workshops and job search support as well as personal life-skills coaching. Participants receive support such as equipment as well as assistance with housing and industry wages during their work experience at the Fab Shop, where they build some of the 8,000 wood objects to be used during the 2010 Winter Games, including podiums, risers, stanchions and signage.

"As a National Partner of Vancouver 2010, RONA is committed to the creation of grassroots programs right where the Games are held, so that local communities can also enjoy their benefits," said Christian Proulx, RONA Senior Vice President, People and Culture. "Just in time for International Women's Day, the group of women training at the Fab Shop helps remind us of the importance of value-added education projects for individuals needing help to build new lives for themselves and the next generation. This is perfectly aligned with our values and commitment to sustainability, and mirrors projects taken on by RONA and the RONA Foundation across the country. As a home improvement retailer, we're also very proud to see young women choosing a non-traditional career path, and showing a passion for carpentry and the construction industry."

"YWCA Vancouver is delighted to be partnering with the RONA Fab Shop for this wonderful project," said Janet Austin, CEO of YWCA Vancouver. "This program provides a unique opportunity for young women to gain skills to build a successful career that will set them on the path to economic independence. While moving forward in their own lives, they will also serve as role models for other young women who are looking to enter the trades."

The Fab Shop was launched in November 2007, when RONA and the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) initiated a partnership with government funding partners and community organizations. The program is certified by the Industry Training Authority (ITA), the agency overseeing British Columbia's industry training and apprenticeship system. The program for this cohort is partially funded by both the ITA and Skills Link, a program of Service Canada. To date, Fab Shop recruits have assembled over 2,000 wood items, including a luge sled box, rifle lock-ups, sled hockey shelves, mascot stands and a bobsled podium.

"We're inspired every day by the Fab Shop carpentry trainees who have chosen to make such a big change in their lives," said Donna Wilson, Executive Vice President, People and Sustainability, VANOC. "VANOC's requirement to produce wood products for the Games was an excellent opportunity to offer trades training. We couldn't do this alone, of course, and we salute RONA's strong commitment to the success of the Fab Shop. It is a unique and powerful collaboration between industry, government and community."

The young women are the third group to undertake carpentry training at the Fab Shop. Previous cohorts were composed of underserved urban youth and urban Aboriginal adults, all facing significant obstacles, including limited employment and life skills, financial difficulties and inadequate housing. By the time the Games begin in 2010, a fourth and last group of recruits will have undertaken training at the Fab Shop, for a total of 64 participants.

The RONA Foundation

RONA, through the RONA Foundation, has been a long-time partner of YWCA Vancouver. It is YWCA Vancouver's Emma's Early Learning and Care Centre, a centre where teenage mothers from the Vancouver area are supported to complete their education and develop parenting skills that first brought the two organizations together. Created in 1998, the RONA Foundation helps young people achieve their potential and take their rightful place in the workforce by providing financial assistance to community programs including those fighting early school dropout; training initiatives; scholarships helping underprivileged students learn a trade; on-the-job training and other employment projects for disadvantaged youth. Over the past 10 years, the RONA Foundation has donated more than $2M to various charitable organizations.

About RONA

RONA is the largest Canadian distributor and retailer of hardware, home renovation and gardening products. RONA operates a network of close to 700 franchise, affiliate and corporate stores of various sizes and formats. With close to 30,000 employees working under its family of banners in every region of Canada and more than 15 million square feet of retail space, the RONA store network generates over $6.3 billion in annual retail sales. Visit www.rona.ca.

About YWCA Vancouver

YWCA Vancouver is a registered charity, providing a range of integrated services for women and their families, and those seeking to improve the quality of their lives. From early learning and care to housing, health and fitness, employment services and leadership, YWCA Vancouver touches lives in communities throughout Metro Vancouver. Visit www.ywcavan.org.


Contacts:
Media:
RONA
Eva Boucher-Hartling
Director, External Communications
514-599-5114 / Cell.: 514-237-8738
eva.boucher-hartling@rona.ca

Financial Community:
RONA
Stephane Milot
Senior Director, Investor Relations
514-599-5951
stephane.milot@rona.ca

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29531505/

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