Sparking First-year Welding Apprenticeships at Bonnie’s Equipment
Keeping heavy machinery up and running in Northern Alberta is a big responsibility, and Bonnie’s Equipment is one of the companies willing to take on that challenge daily.
“The shop is always hopping,” said Daisy Pilipchuk, office manager at Bonnie’s. “Our customers rely upon us to get their equipment back on the job as soon as possible.
“In order to maintain the quality of service we do, it’s important to have a full team of heavy duty mechanics and welders. This is becoming increasingly difficult due to labour shortages that we are seeing in the industry. That’s why we were really excited to learn about the Rupertsland program.”
Funded by the Government of Canada’s Apprenticeship Service, Rupertsland Institute’s (RLI) Apprenticeship Service Project is an initiative that supports the growth of the next generation in 32 Red Seal trades, providing up to $10,000 in financial incentives to Small and Medium-Sized enterprises helping to offset the cost of hiring a first-year apprentice.
The financial incentive is specifically aimed at increasing participation in the trades from diverse equity groups, including Métis, First Nations, Inuit and women. One of those who recently entered the program is Elias Fraser-Marks, who is a Métis citizen living in Kehewin, Alberta.
“I had previously met Elias through a summer employment program, and knew him to be an excellent worker,” said Thea Abdolhady, Industrial Relations Liaison at RLI.
“I reached out to inform Elias of the opportunity, and then worked with him to research the different trade options available. We then confirmed he was eligible to enter as a first-year apprentice in the trade of his choice – which was welding.”
Through the program, RLI assists applicants by providing additional supports, such as help navigating the apprenticeship system, onboarding apprentices, and assistance in creating welcoming workplaces for apprentices in the construction and manufacturing industries in Alberta.
To meet eligibility, applicants to the Apprenticeship Service Program must meet the education and entrance requirements for the desired trade, and be legally able to work in Canada, and ready, willing, and able to enter into an apprenticeship agreement.
“The next step in the process was finding an eligible enterprise that was interested in hiring a first-year apprentice,” continued Abdolhady.
“I knew of the services that Bonnie’s Equipment offered, and I reached out to them to see if there might be interest. It was a pretty good match, and exactly what both Bonnie’s and Elias were looking for.”
“I always had an interest in welding after trying it out in school,” said Fraser-Marks. “There’s just something about metal on metal that I find really satisfying.”
“Thea has been super supportive throughout the entire process, and I was grateful for the opportunity. Everybody’s been really nice at Bonnie’s, and I’ve already learned so much from Dustin, my Journeyman Welder. I’m excited to continue my career in the trades and I know this is just the start.”
The federal government currently estimates that 700,000 skilled trades workers are expected to retire in Canada by 2028 and is investing nearly $247 million to help create more than 25,000 apprentice positions in skilled trades across Canada through partnerships with organizations such as RLI.
RLI is targeting up to 150 first-year Red Seal apprentices per year and are actively taking applications from both first-year apprentices and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Learn more about eligibility and how to apply here.