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Trades Training Finds New Employer Ally

Despite launching during a glut in the Albertan economy, Momentum’s newly developed Electrician Trades Training stream found incredible support from Calgary’s construction industry.
While participants were engaged in the program, Momentum’s Trades Training staff were hard at work securing work experience placements. A cold call piqued the interest of Matt Price, a Project Manager at Grand West Electric Ltd., and he invited Momentum to his office the next day.
A strong selling point for Price was that the participants have already undergone a rigorous interview and screening process, which saw over 350 applicants pared down to the 15 successful participants. While these participants have a variety of backgrounds, their desire to be dedicated workers was clear.
“We knew that each and every one of them, their heart was truly in being an electrician,” says Larry Heckel, another Project Manager for Grand West. “These people came from hardship, they wanted a new life, and they were very eager.”
Grand West took on 13 participants for one month of unpaid work experience. Rather than assign the participants to general labour work, they provided supervision and diversified the training to ensure participants learned a variety of skills. Additionally participants were all provided with a starter tool kit – an asset tradespeople often are required to purchase themselves.
“We thought that was the least we could do for their month of work experience,” says Heckel. “We knew a lot of them came from hardship. We know that would mean the world to them. If we weren’t able to hire them, we knew at least that was something we could give back to them as a start.”
As it turned out, Grand West was able to offer the participants more than a tool kit and a month of work experience. In a speech at the electrician’s graduation from the Momentum program on May 12, Price announced that they would be hiring all 13 of their participants. Understandably, the crowd erupted in cheers and applause.
Not only are the new hires now indentured apprentices, their month of work experience will also count toward the 1,500 hours of on-the-job training needed to write a first-year electrical exam.
Don Capili, a participant who arrived in Calgary from the Philippines eight months ago, was one of the newly hired electricians. Capili has a background as an electrical engineer in the Philippines and planned to work in the trades when he arrived in Canada.
In his first month, he worked a labour job and was unhappy with the work environment. His perception of Calgary’s construction industry changed when he started training at Grand West.
”They’re very accommodating, and they’re always willing to teach,” says Capili. “It was crunch time when we were at the site, and they still made a point to be with us and made sure we were learning and were asking our feedback.”
Price and Heckel say they are looking forward to Momentum’s next electrician group. But for now, they hope their new staff continue to learn and grow with Grand West through their apprenticeship, and possibly move in to supervisor roles in the future.
“Sometimes the dirtiest stone in the pile is the shiniest when polished,” says Heckel. “And for us, we feel that we have 13 brilliant stones who are polished.”

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