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Carpenters’ council encouraging apprentices to earn while you learn

Angela Gismondi
Carpenters’ council encouraging apprentices to earn while you learn
PHOTO COURTESY OF JULIET HALL - Juliet Hall, a second-year carpentry apprentice with Local 27, is currently working for Reimar Forming & Construction on a commercial project in Etobicoke, Ont. Hall joined Local 27 just before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and although it was a slow start, she is now doing a job she loves.

Former personal support worker Juliet Hall joined Carpenters’ Local 27 just before the pandemic began and is now a second-year carpentry apprentice, happily pursuing her career after a major lifestyle change.

“What I would say to people, be it a man or a woman, be it young, in their 20s, 30s and up to 40s, is go for it,” said Hall. “It’s an excellent career choice. You can apply your skills to better your community and for your personal use. The financial rewards, in the end, the money is great.”

She decided to get into carpentry after hearing a Toronto Community Benefits Network ad on the radio.

“They needed people and women in the construction trades and they were offering a program,” Hall recalled, adding she had already taken a pre-apprenticeship program in carpentry. “I contacted them and there was short program, maybe about a month, where you were able to get all your tickets.

“With that there were representatives that came in from all different unions and the Carpenters’ Union, they did an excellent presentation.”

Although the first year may not be easy, it’s important to stick with it.

“The first year will be one of the hardest because you may not get steady work, but you just have to keep on making connections either through the union, going out and meeting people…and keep in contact if you have worked anywhere with people,” said Hall. “Working with your hands and knowing that you were part of building a structure that you drive by or you see in the future and say ‘I was a part of that.’ It’s rewarding in all aspects.”

She is currently working with Reimar Forming & Construction on a commercial project in Etobicoke. While it can be challenging to be one of the only women on site, her experience has been good so far.

“I just wish that there would be more women, especially in carpentry,” said Hall. “Don’t be fearful…Sometimes there is doubt. I want to let women know just have a positive mindset and anything is possible.”

Mulisius Joe, a representative with the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario, said every Tuesday is a day for intake for new members at the Local 27 offices in Vaughan.

“In the last few weeks there has been a steady stream of apprentice persons coming to sign up for apprenticeships in carpentry, drywall and flooring,” said Joe. “The word is getting out there…we do recognize that outreach is going to be vital for this program to be successful.”

Joe got into the Carpenters’ Union 12 years ago.

“The biggest benefit and the reason why I got in is the fact that I can earn money while I learn,” she said. “I can provide for my family, I have a pension, I have benefits and I have the great wages and also you haven’t accumulated student loans or a debt that I now have to pay pack.

“It’s one of the best decisions I ever made.”

The program is open to everybody, but they are trying to recruit more individuals from underrepresented groups.

Speaking from personal experience, Joe said representation really does matter.

“I know how seeing another woman onsite changed my perspective, especially when I was just about to give up,” she said. “She wasn’t even of the same race, but just seeing another woman who was rocking, delegating tasks and roughing it just as well as the guys without even complaining, that made the difference for me because I realized if she could do it I could do it too.”

Once you sign up you can register for courses to get the tickets you need to work.

“Once you come in with your proper documentation you can start the process,” said Joe. “You sign your contract of apprenticeship, then you get your three safety courses and you can go out to work.”

For employers, there are programs to take on apprentices whether you are a unionized or non-union company.

“Everybody qualifies,” said Joe. “All you have to do is keep the apprentice for a minimum of four weeks and provide proof of that employment to be able to qualify for the incentive.

“It’s $5,000 for taking any apprentice and an additional $5,000 if that apprentice is from an equity deserving group such a woman, an Indigenous person, a person with a disability, a visible minority, a newcomer to Canada within the last 10 years.”

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