SAINT JOHN – Finding a job that’s in demand is tough. Finding jobs that will be in demand in the future is even tougher.
But that’s what the New Brunswick Teen Apprenticeship Program (NBTAP) hoped to do when it launched about five years ago as a way to get more young people into the skilled trades. Looking at its latest numbers, it seems clear they are on to something.
NBTAP is an industry led pre-apprentice program for students starting in Grade 10 or Grade 11. Student apprentices are coached and mentored by a skilled trades employer over two or three paid summer work terms, and learn practical trade and workplace skills.
But these aren’t ‘hold my hammer, while I do the actual work’ skills. The students are being trained for position they have a good chance of filling.
“What differentiates NBTAP from many youth apprentice programs is that the employers identify the potential future need that they see in their workforce and then recruit for those trades only,” said Christina Taylor, the program’s executive director. “What it can do is decrease the skills gap.”
In other words, it’s less likely the apprentice will go through post-secondary training yet leave with no job prospects.
“If an employer or an industry has said ‘there will be a future need in this particular area, and we will invest in the training of a student to meet that potential need’ the employers not only have skin the game because they are paying the student’s wages, but they are also are investing in the training,” Taylor said.
When the program first launch in 2012, there was only six male students from Simonds High School in Saint John. In 2015, 100 students started the summer working for 52 employers all across New Brunswick in 24 different skill trades. The trades ranged for construction boilermakers, power line technicians, industrial mechanics, carpenters and even cooks.
Jordon Robertson completed the program in summer 2014. He’s now been working steady for six months as a millwright apprentice at the Irving Oil Refinery.
“I was always interested in the trades, mostly because I liked working with my hands, and my interest was more based on mechanics,” Robertson said. “My dad was an automotive mechanic and I spent a lot of time with him growing up. We were always working on his motorcycle, or tinkering away at a small job at our house, and I’ve loved it since then.”
He said the program helped him discover what exactly he wanted to do and allowed him to get ahead.
“My experience through NBTAP helped me get to where I’m at today, without them I wouldn’t of got the head start I did, and get my first block done as soon as I did. I go for my second this winter,” Robertson said.
“My plans for the future are to get my apprenticeship done, and be a licensed millwright. I’d like to stay in New Brunswick if I can, there’s nothing like working from home.”
There certainly isn’t.