Apprentices show their skills

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Nineteen sheet metal and roofing apprentices competed during this year’s Sheet Metal Workers’ national convention in Victoria. CTV Vancouver Island News covered the practical portion of the Sheet Metal competition.

By Claudia Ferris

Nineteen fourth-year sheet metal apprentices from across Canada competed under a pop-up shop set up at the Ship Point Marina in Victoria’s picturesque Inner Harbour on July 6 and 7. The apprentices had eight hours to complete each project. Tourists and passers-by stopped to see their skilled work.

This year’s Canadian Sheet Metal and Roofing Apprentice Competition was hosted by Sheet Metal Workers Local 276. The sheet metal apprentices were required to build a binnacle, the housing for a ship compass. Roofing apprentices made a scaled-down metal roof. The theoretical portion of the competition was conducted off site.

The winners of the 43rd annual sheet metal and roofing competition were recognized at the final evening wrap-up at the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa. The best binnacle award went to Sam Townshend from Edmonton. Local 276’s Bruce Sheltgan of Nelson Roofing won the top roofing spot.

Local 276 Business Manager Jason Pedersen said, “It’s been great to see how well trained our young workers are.”

The Victoria local was kept busy hosting 150 delegates to the Canadian Council of Sheet Metal Workers’ and Roofers’ convention held at the same time.

Premier John Horgan attended the national convention and spoke with delegates about the challenges and opportunities facing the industry. He received one of the finished binnacles in recognition of his participation, which, combined with a compass, are good symbols for keeping the province on course.

Affiliates of the BC building trades have successfully kept apprentices on course to becoming Red Seal ticketed journeypersons. The completion rate for Local 276 apprentices is 96 per cent.

The Vancouver Island local has a savings program for their apprentices built into their collective agreements. “This helps our apprentices complete the school portion of their training at Camosun College,” said Pederson. “Tuition fees get covered, and the students access the rest of their savings to cover living expenses.” Apprentices can also build their savings funds by attending union meetings.

Members of the local union recently completed a liquefied natural gas conversion with Seaspan, a complex project that ended on time and on budget. Pederson said he is grateful to the other unions who are working together to build the local LNG industry, the plumbers and pipefitters, electricians, labourers, painters, boilermakers.

Vancouver Island is in need of skilled workers as the Victoria Shipyards ramps up its work. With union contracts that require an apprenticeship ratio of three journeypersons to one apprentice, Island workers have great opportunities to work on well-paid and interesting projects.

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