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MTB Surrey Schools Partnership

From Left: Austin Tate, James McGuire, Brandon McEwan, Kerry Donnelly, David Crilly, Drew Smith, Georgina Hopps, Jennifer O’Hearn, Matt Fuhr, Susan Martin and Jenna Sturrock

In January, 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. Three students signed up for the three week paid work experience and during the program each student was teamed with an on-site mentor at a MRC Total Build project site.

“On behalf of Surrey Schools, I would like to thank the Mainroad Group and MRC Total Build for providing this amazing opportunity for our Learning Centre students.  David Crilly and his project supervisors at MRC Total Build, provided meaningful, hands-on work experiences for our students, and so much more:  they provided real mentorship.  They took the time to teach our students new skills, train them on equipment and machinery used in the trades, and probably most importantly, held the students accountable for coming to work on time, ready to work with a good attitude.  Based on the feedback from the students, I know they were grateful for the opportunity; they understood how invaluable this experience was for them.  This was a very successful pilot, and I am thrilled that we will be able to continue this partnership in the future.”  Georgina Hopps, District Career Education Coordinator, Surrey Schools.

Following completion of the program, we received letters from Surrey School students, Austin Tate, James McGuire and Brandon McEwan sharing feedback about their work experience…

Total Build’s Matt Fuhr mentored Austin Tate (19) at the Clayton Heights Project. “I learned a lot over the course of the three weeks. I learned and developed many new skills along with sharpening some skills I haven’t used since Grade 10, and was exposed to a lot of what I wanted.  I developed new skills with hand tools like chisels, hammers, tape measures; I also had the opportunity to work with power tools such as drills, saws, grinders, cement vibrators and nail guns. Additionally, I learned important employability skills on the job which include coming to work early in the morning and never missing work.  I learned how important time management and managing information is by listening to instructions and following them to make sure jobs were complete and done so in a timely manner.  I picked up communication skills by working with co-workers and making sure we were both safely in each other’s proximity.  I learned safe working skills and made sure I was competent in all the work I was doing before I proceeded with any new task especially when they involved new tools.  I learned how to identify and manage different site hazards; covering exposed rebar, filling holes and ditches, keeping a clean work space, and how to do proper, ergonomic lifts to avoid injury while lifting stacks of 2×4’s, bundles of rebar and other miscellaneous tasks. Most importantly, I learned cooperation and teamwork which I very much so practiced on a day to day basis to ensure quality work was achieved and I will carry these skills to any job I may have in the future to help me pay my way on my path to being an English Teacher.” (Austin has ruled out a career in the trades in favour of becoming an English Teacher.)

Total Build’s Royal Derry mentored Brandon McEwan (19) at the Surrey District Energy Project at Whalley Boulevard/Fraser Highway. Brandon was exposed to a heavy civil operation. “Thank you for making my three weeks at MRC Total Build worthwhile. I am now aware of the extra work involved for a work experience student in your place of business.  The time and effort you made to this such a valuable experience is greatly appreciated. The learning experience was awesome.  The crew were nice and had a good sense of humour.  I found working with some of the tools challenging, yet fun at the same time.  It is something I have never done before and I enjoyed doing it while learning.  As well, it was great to be working within my neighbourhood, as I learned more about my community and got to see a couple of friends that worked in the site next to me.  It was a good feeling seeing people I know while I was at work.  I would have never expected to see anyone I know. The lessons I have learned during this work experience will enable me to make more informed career choices, as it confirmed my interest in the trades.  Again, I want to thank you for the wonderful opportunity to explore my future professional possibilities.  Hopefully, we will have the opportunity to work together in the future.” (Brandon is aiming to follow his Grandfather’s footsteps by pursuing a career in Welding and he is very interested in working with MRC Total Build in the near future.) 

Total Build’s Jordan Ditchfield and Brendan Phelps mentored James McGuire (19) at the UBC Iona Drive Project. I want to thank the Mainroad Company for the work experience opportunity with MRC Total Build. It has helped me firm up my career goal of working in the trades.  I came to White Rock South Surrey Learning Centre in September 2015 to complete my high school graduation, and to figure out a transition plan for after high school. I knew I was interested in having a career in the trades and this work experience confirmed my goal of gaining experience and training in construction and carpentry. I learned a lot over the course of three weeks and I developed many new skills using hand tools like chisels, hammers, tape measures, and sanders; I also had the opportunity to use power tools such as drills, saws, and nail guns. In addition to skills learned with tools, I learned important employability skills on the job like responsibility which included coming to work early in the morning and never missing work. I learned the importance of managing information by following instructions and making sure jobs were completed.  I picked up communication skills by working with co-workers.  I solved problems with my co-workers when we were not sure how to proceed and this gave me confidence for the task.  I became aware of importance of safety, such as job site hazards and safety regulations. I learned proper ergonomics so that I would not injure myself when lifting heavy furniture. Most importantly, I learned cooperation and teamwork which I practiced every day with co-workers to ensure high quality work got done.  The work experience has changed my view on work. I learned that while this work can be difficult and some jobs require lots of hard work, it was work I enjoyed doing, and it’s important for me to pursue a job and a career that I enjoy. The skills that I acquired from this work experience will help me in a career in the future and in life as well. Thanks again to MRC Total Build and the Mainroad Group for giving me this opportunity. (James came into this opportunity focussed solely on a career in Plumbing. Following his mentorship with MRC Total Build, he has now decided to sign up for the Surrey District Partnership Carpentry Program to complement his interest in a Plumbing trade.)

“The outcome of this pilot project was really positive. These kids have seen a taste of what the real world is like and I hope that we helped give them a step forward. I want to thank Matt, Royal, Jordan and Brendan for their contribution—I don’t know any General Contractor that is doing this. I believe our partnership with Surrey Schools is really unique and we are committed to it going forward,” David Crilly, General Manager for MRC Total Build.


We wish Austin, Brandon and James a very bright future!