Nova Sco­tia Ap­pren­tice­ship Agency

Grace Hall stepped out of her com­fort zone, and into a con­struc­tion site

The Coast - Career Minded - - PAID CONTENT -

16 -year-old Grace Hall never would have given a sec­ond thought to work­ing in con­struc­tion. But that was be­fore her ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with Roscoe Con­struc­tion Ltd.

Hall had heard about the co-op­er­a­tive ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­nity through Michelle Peters, the Build­ing Fu­tures for Youth lead for the Cana­dian Con­struc­tion As­so­ci­a­tion of Nova Sco­tia, or CANS. Build­ing Fu­tures for Youth is a sum­mer youth pro­gram funded by the Nova Sco­tia Ap­pren­tice­ship Agency, in­volv­ing part­ner­ships with the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and Early Child­hood De­vel­op­ment, Re­gional Cen­tres for Ed­u­ca­tion, the Nova Sco­tia Com­mu­nity Col­lege and CANS. Peters came in to speak to Hall’s Grade 10 class at Cen­tral Kings Ru­ral High School, and right away Hall knew she wanted to par­tic­i­pate. The pro­gram sounded amaz­ing, Hall thought. She would be able to earn the re­quired credit for her Op­tions and Op­por­tu­ni­ties class, plus have paid work for the sum­mer.

“The ap­pli­ca­tion process wasn’t bad. You filled it out, needed two ref­er­ences, said why you were in­ter­ested and which jobs you would do,” says Hall. “I picked a cou­ple that sounded in­trigu­ing like a blaster or crane op­er­a­tor, but it turns out you need years of ex­pe­ri­ence to do that.”

Hall wanted to stay lo­cal, and the site wound up be­ing five min­utes from her house in Cold­brook. Hall couldn’t have been hap­pier with her po­si­tion as a gen­eral labourer in the car­pen­ter trade with Roscoe Con­struc­tion.

Hall’s place­ment re­quired a two-week course at NSCC, where she took on­line safety cour­ses and watched videos demon­strat­ing hands-on work from how to hammer a nail, to work­ing safely in an en­vi­ron­ment where there are beams hang­ing above. All of it was re­lated to step­ping onto a con­struc­tion site, and main­tain­ing gen­eral safety, in prepa­ra­tion for the sum­mer.

Fi­nally, Hall would par­tic­i­pate in a five­week on-site pre-ap­pren­tice­ship work place­ment once her safety train­ing was com­plete.

“The big­gest chal­lenge was be­ing in an en­vi­ron­ment where it was mostly men on the con­struc­tion site. There was only one other fe­male. I’ve never been in that sort of male-dom­i­nated en­vi­ron­ment, and I’m ac­tu­ally glad I was put in that po­si­tion. It gave me ex­pe­ri­ence of what it was like,” says Hall.

Hall goes on to say how com­fort­able she was right off the bat. Her work­mates were ex­tremely sup­port­ive of her, and they wanted her to suc­ceed.

“All of the peo­ple I trained with at NSCC were de­ter­mined for me, and it made me want to go. Once I started work­ing on the site, I made so many con­nec­tions and re­la­tion­ships—I even stopped in at the site af­ter my five weeks to check in,” she says about meet­ing new peo­ple and step­ping out­side of her com­fort zone.

Now that she has worked in con­struc­tion, Hall says that she would con­sider a po­si­tion in man­age­ment. The whole ex­pe­ri­ence was eye-open­ing for her, even if she doesn’t pur­sue it, be­cause it taught her the chal­lenges of work­ing a phys­i­cally de­mand­ing job, and what jobs are avail­able to her.

“It was dif­fer­ent from school. It was a dif­fer­ent kind of work – it was phys­i­cal, rather than sit­ting in a class­room,” Hall says. “I liked work­ing on the site be­cause it’s mainly com­mon sense. In school, it’s text­book work and you don’t get to think out­side of the box as much. The hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence on the site is re­ally im­pact­ing.”

Hall is glad she com­pleted this pro­gram, both for hav­ing earned school cred­its for fin­ish­ing her cer­tifi­cate, and for the valu­able life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing in the work field.

Look­ing back, it was the best de­ci­sion I could have made. I love map­ping. —Jill Ejdry­giewicz

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