Derek has worked as a server, restaurant manager and as a conveyor belt technician in mines and in boat yards. “When I was a conveyor belt technician, I saw building and construction trades working in the field and heard about the benefits and job security and I was interested in learning more,” Derek said. In learning about the construction trades through a program called Building Strong Communities, a multi-craft apprenticeship readiness program, Derek decided to become and apprentice with the Iron Workers.
Derek’s favorite part of being an Iron Worker apprentice is placing structural beams, the backbones of tall buildings. “I like being in the air and connecting the structural iron beams, I like to help give crane signals on where to place the beams and bolting them in place.” In the future, Derek hopes to be able to take advanced courses and become a foreman.
He says that he wishes that he started in the trades when he was younger and encourages people who are interested in a career in the building trades to go to a union hall, meet people and talk with them about the job. Derek shared that “the first year is hard, but you build relationships with your crew and others in the union which is important.”
Apprenticeship programs are a pathway for a lifelong career. Previously, Derek’s concerns were for his future and caring for his four-year-old son. “Before I joined the apprenticeship program, I didn’t have a savings plan. Having my son really made me think about the future. I will have enough hours to retire when I’m 60,” with a pension and a sense of security for the future.