This year’s College of Carpenters and Allied Trades (CCAT) apprenticeship graduates received encouraging words that they are entering the workforce at an incredible time to be in the building trades.
"Our city is firing on all cylinders. We have transit projects, we have health care, we have education, we have massive immigration so our condo market is booming and you’re coming into an industry just as we’re facing all kinds of retirements," Mike Yorke, president of Carpenters Local 27 and the Carpenters District Council of Ontario, told those gathered for the 2017 apprenticeship graduation ceremony in Vaughan, Ont. recently.
"You’ve got jobs, you’ve got construction happening and you’ve got a workforce that needs new workers. Starting tomorrow, you are going to be building an incredible city at an incredible time."
The graduation ceremony is a longstanding tradition that gives graduates a sense of accomplishment following 7,200 hours of training, added Yorke. It included the presentation of Creating Real Apprenticeships for Toronto (CRAFT) and Toronto Inner City Rugby Foundation (TIRF) pre-apprenticeship certificates, journeyperson certificates to apprenticeship graduates and the presentation of awards.
"For those in the TIRF program and the CRAFT program, you see the type of organization that this is, the type of organization that you are on the threshold of becoming a member of and four years from now we want to see you on this stage as a journeyperson in our industry," said Yorke. "That is a challenge to you and I know four years from now you will be here."
Jason Rowe, vice-president, Canadian District with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) and Joiners of America, thanked the apprentices, the "future of the organization," for achieving their goal and becoming part of the brotherhood.
"You might become lead hands, you might become foreman, superintendents — those are all possible career paths for you. You may become a full time officer of the UBC like I did," said Rowe.
He also stressed the need for lifelong learning.
"After today your training doesn’t stop," Rowe explained. "You thought it might, you thought you would never have to go back to school. The problem is that this industry changes every single day and in order to keep up with those changes we need to go into what’s called lifelong learning.
"You’re going to need to know how to work better in your crews, adapting to a larger environment, how to deal with clients and customers — all these things come from soft skills."
Ucal Powell, former executive secretary treasurer of the Carpenters’ District Council, asked the new graduates to remember how they got their start when dealing with apprentices in the future.
"Construction sites are intimidating places, especially larger jobs and someone must have taken you under their wing and paid special attention to you," said Powell.
"When I started, the level of safety training that is taking place right now wasn’t there, the law wasn’t as strict as it is and I saw apprentices that were working when they shouldn’t have because the person who they were supposed to be trained under didn’t take the care to teach them. I’m going to demand of you when a new apprentice comes on the job, remember how you got your start, take that responsibility and be kind and generous and teach them the way."
He also shared a story about a female labourer who was working to put herself through hairdressing school. He saw potential in her and encouraged her to pursue an apprenticeship and she eventually went on to become a successful superintendent.
"When we say the sky is the limit for this trade we mean the sky is the limit…there is no end to where you can reach in this organization," Powell told the graduates. "To all you young ladies out there, times have changed."