By Mervin Brass

(Saskatoon, SK) About a dozen pipe fitter apprentices hope to make the grade in an eight-week program that will lead to full-time employment for the next five years.

CIMS Limited Partnership will hire the top 10 apprentices from the graduating class so they can complete their journeyman papers.

“Actually this puts my mind at ease that I’m going to have a job after this because when my father went in for an electrician, he told me that he wasn’t hired anywhere, “ says Gage Scott, from the Kinistin First Nation. “He had to look for a job and it took a year-and-a-half to find a job.”

The 18-year old Scott is one of 12 First Nation and Metis apprentices enrolled in the Job Readiness Program sponsored by CIMS in conjunction with the UA Saskatchewan Piping Industry Joint Training Board, Saskatoon Tribal Council and Saskatchewan Building Trades.

The apprentices will spend two months getting hands-on training in a live simulated job site that includes indoor and outdoor work environments, welding and classroom time.

Chris Henricksen, assistant training coordinator says the apprentices will learn about safety, about tools and the basic skills of an apprentice.

“You work 1,800 hours, then you can go to first year, you work 1,800 hours then you qualify for second year,” says Henricksen.  “Until you get up to your 7,200 hours. Then they will write all their exams at SaskPolytech, their comprehensive exams and then they have to do their Red Seal Journeyman exam with Saskatchewan Trades Commission and Certification.”

Lyle Daniels, labour development strategist for the Saskatchewan Building Trades, says the five year employment opportunity offered by CIMS is unique.

“I’ve never seen a commitment like this anywhere, anywhere, by anyone,” says Daniels. “We need more contractors, the owners, to be able to say what is our aboriginal engagement strategy for our company. We need to have a contractor who is willing, not just staff, upper people that would be able to make a decision and say what is going on here is what we need to do.”

Scott graduated from high school last year and like most graduates he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do for a career.

He landed a job as a carpenter, then one day his mother told him the Saskatoon Tribal Council was recruiting for the pipe fitter program.

“I didn’t know anything at the time about it, I just kind of knew it had to do with something about pipe,” says Scott, who has learned a few things since class began. “I learned that there’s this copper tube that’s used specifically for refrigeration. And then there’s medical tubing, then there’s stuff to sanitize the pipes. Actually, there’s a big range.”



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