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From Left: Jenna Sturrock (MRC Total Build), Matt Fuhr (MRC Total Build), Nicole Hildebrand (MRC Total Build), David Crilly (MRC Total Build), Morgan Skinner (Student), Kevin Breti (MRC Total Build), Keshaun McRae (Student), Laura Hart (Student), Jennifer O’Hearn (Surrey Schools), Georgina Hopps (Surrey Schools), Peter Ashcroft (President & CEO of Mainroad Group) and Ken Van Der Starren (MRC Total Build).

The demand for construction workers is soaring and so too is the demand for apprentices. Mainroad Group company, MRC Total Build, a Lower Mainland general contracting company, is filling the gap with paid internships in construction for Surrey Schools Learning Centre youth.

In January, 2016, MRC Total Build launched a mentorship pilot program with Surrey Schools District Career Education offering high school students the opportunity to explore a career in trades. Students were teamed up with a Total Build mentor at a project site where they wore a green hard hat to identify them to the entire crew as a “student worker” so everyone was looking out for their safety.

The mentorship provides students with meaningful, hands-on work experience including specific training to use power and hand tools, and exposure to various construction equipment and site operations. Students learn employability skills such as time management, communication skills and the importance of safe work practices. The program enables students to make more informed career choices while for others it can confirm their interest in a trades career.

Following the three week pilot, of the three students who completed the paid mentorship, two students are now pursuing careers in welding and carpentry while the third student ruled out a trades career in favour of becoming an English Teacher. Full Story

“We’re providing work opportunities for young people to give them the skills they need to be successful in a competitive job market. It’s a win – win,” says David Crilly, General Manager for MRC Total Build.

In May, three new students completed the three week mentorship program…

Georgina Hopps, Career Coordinator for Surrey Schools shares Crilly’s vision for these students, “our Learning Centre students are fortunate to have been given this opportunity because the MRC Total Build Mentorship goes a step beyond our traditional work experience programs. While we offer courses and work experiences where students can complete technical trades training, this mentorship opportunity allows students to get out in the field and do real hands-on work, on a real project site, with a boss who holds them accountable for their attendance and performance.  The students are signed on as a legitimate temporary employee so they learn to fill our paperwork for payroll.  And, they learn very quickly that they won’t get paid if they don’t show up for work.  In the end, if they’ve done a good job, and they’ve put in the effort, there is potential for the students to get hired on permanently depending on the projects available.  That’s real life”. 

Laura Hart is 17 years old. Laura came to Total Build with zero experience, high energy and a very keen interest to learn.  Total Build’s Matt Fuhr mentored Laura at the Intercon Project where she learned how to use power drills and table saws to cut pieces of wood and to install drywall.  Laura says, “the most challenging task for me was operating power tools as I’m left handed but seeing my finished work, I was like, wow, I did this. It was a good feeling!”  Laura also shadowed plumbers as this was her area of interest.  Because of this experience, Laura has been accepted into a six month District Partnership Plumbing Program with Kwantlen Polytechnic University commencing August, 2016.  She also noted, “the last thing I want to do is sit at a desk – I want to be outside!”

Keshaun McRae is 18 years old. Keshaun came to Total Build with some exposure to trade work activities from school courses. Total Build’s Justin Loewen mentored Keshaun at a Horizon Landscaping project in Vancouver.  Keshaun helped build some of the concrete forms for decorative benches and levelled concrete pours.  The project required a 7:30 am start to meet city noise bylaws which proved to be the most challenging task for Keshaun.  “Getting up early at 4AM was a real struggle but eventually I got into a routine.”  With interests in electrical, plumbing and carpentry, Keshaun is still pondering which of those trade paths he wants to pursue as an apprentice.

Morgan Skinner is 18 years old.  Total Build’s Dennis Garcia mentored Morgan at the Clayton Project. It had been a few years since Morgan’s wood shop class in high school so he welcomed the opportunity to learn how to use all sorts of power tools.  “I had a really good time working with Dennis. I learned a lot about the importance of asking questions when I’m not 100% sure of something or was in a situation I wasn’t comfortable with,” says Morgan.  As for future plans, Morgan doesn’t know what trade he wants to do yet but we’re certain he has a few more ideas to ponder following this experience.

While working at their job sites, all of the students agreed that they felt safe at all times and getting paid for this experience was helpful and an enormous incentive.

Keshaun and Morgan, having just graduated this June, have been hired as General Labourers for the summer season.

This was a real life hands-on work experience opportunity for these students. The Total Build team really enjoyed having these students and we look forward to our next mentorship program scheduled in October,” says Crilly.