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Celebrating World Youth Skills Day - Emerging Talent at JDI


On World Youth Skills Day, we are celebrating our youth skill development, which enables social and economic growth in our communities. At J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI) we are committed to empowering our youth with education, skill-training and employment opportunities. JDI forecasts over 6800  full time hires over the next three years.


Midland Novice Driver Program:

Traditional driver recruitment at Midland requires successful applicants to possess at least two years of practical CLASS 1 experience prior to joining our team. However, we recognize that all drivers need to start somewhere and we see tremendous value in giving our youth the opportunity to develop a stable and worthwhile career in our industry. This vision led us to develop our Novice Driver Program, where CLASS 1 drivers with less than 6 months to 1 year of experience are given an opportunity to get behind the wheel. 

Meet one of our novice drivers, Michel Duguay! 

  Michel Duguay


Michel, originally from Cap Pele, New Brunswick,  graduated from Trans-Canada College Commercial Tractor Trailer Operator Course in Moncton, NB. He says he wanted to work for Midland because he had heard about the success of the program from others who had taken part and became safe and successful Commercial Tractor Trailer Operators.

As students move through a training program with trained coaches and mentors, they are provided with the necessary training and experience to become successful, safe and professional commercial tractor trailer drivers.  Currently we have 23 drivers taking part in this program.


The Emerging Talent Career Development Program:

The Emerging Talent Career Development Program is an all-encompassing training and development platform that is made up of two specific career development programs: Recent Graduate and Future Leader. 

The two programs support J.D. Irving Limited's vision of becoming the Atlantic Canadian company of choice for the next generation work force to grow and develop their careers.

The Recent Graduate Program is a structured two-year program implemented through a blended learning approach. This provides selected graduates and existing newly graduated employees with the opportunity to develop core skills focusing on career development, JDI culture, and values.  This program is directed by the Participant, their Manager, the Mentor and Career Coach.  It is guided and supported by the Career Coach and the Vice President of Human Resources.  

The Future Leader Program is a structured three-year program, also implemented through a blended learning approach that will act as the next step of development to create the next level of leaders at JDI.  This program is for select employees who have 3 to 10 years of working experience at JDI, have shown interest in developing their skills as a leader, have demonstrated superior impact and contributions in their performance and have successfully been identified by the selection process to be a Future Leader within the organization.  Similar to the Recent Graduate program, this program is directed by the participant, their Manager, the Mentor/Sponsor and Career Coach, while guided and supported by the Career Coach and the Vice President of Human Resources.  

  Emerging Talents


This year, Ahmed Affany (Top), Freight & Analytics Manager at Cavendish Farms, and Erin Avery (Bottom), Project Engineer at Cavendish Farms  have been selected as our Future Leaders:

  Erin Avery 2


Shipyard Pathways Programs

The establishment of the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence at Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) was designed to provide opportunities and support for Nova Scotians to find careers in shipbuilding, with a focus on underrepresented communities. This initiative has led to training and employment opportunities for women, indigenous Canadians, and African Nova Scotians. 

  Shipbuilding Pathways


The first-ever Pathways to Shipbuilding Program for African Nova Scotians concluded in June at Halifax Shipyard, where students had been working on their final practical training in the two-year welding program.

East Preston Empowerment Academy hosted program partners at the shipyard to acknowledge the success of the program. All 20 students who began the program in 2018 are scheduled to graduate, including 13 with Honours.

The program was disrupted in March due to the current pandemic, however program partners developed a revised plan that saw the students arrive at Halifax Shipyard four weeks prior to the end of the program so they could resume their practical training to obtain their four Flux Core Arc Welding tickets required by the Canadian Welding Bureau (WCB) in order to work in shipbuilding. Irving Shipbuilding also covered the tuition and testing fees for the students.

Program partners include the Province of Nova Scotia, East Preston Empowerment Academy, Irving Shipbuilding, Nova Scotia Community College, Nova Scotia Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs, Labour & Advanced Education, Employment NS, Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency, Canadian Welding Bureau, YMCA Dartmouth, and Human Resource & Skills Development Canada, Workforce Development

“We have been tremendously impressed by these students and were pleased to be able to make offers to have them to join our team of world-class shipbuilders here at Halifax Shipyard to build ships for Canada." says Kevin McCoy, President of Irving Shipbuilding Inc.. "We believe in the Pathways to Shipbuilding initiative and know that by working with our community partners, we will continue to strengthen our organization by expanding our reach to include all those who are looking for rewarding, long-term shipbuilding careers here at home in Nova Scotia.”

This is the fourth Pathways to Shipbuilding program, building on the previous Pathways for Women and for Indigenous peoples. A fifth Pathways to Shipbuilding program is currently under development for Indigenous peoples.


New Brunswick Teen Apprentice Program (NBTAP)

The New Brunswick Teen Apprentice Program (NBTAP) is an industry-led pre-apprentice program for high school students interested in pursuing a skilled trade. NBTAP Student Apprentices participate in up to three paid summer work terms with one of 125+ NBTAP employers across the province. These employers commit to provide Student Apprentices with coaching and mentorship and provide a positive and meaningful skilled trades work experience. NB Southern Railway, based in Saint John, has employed NBTAP Student Apprentices since 2013. 

Meet two program alumni now working full-time at the railway: 



Connor Dann: NBTAP Alumni, Future Apprentice

Connor Dan was introduced to NB Southern Railway as an NBTAP Student Apprentice in 2016. He began working in the company's locomotive shop and quickly found he enjoyed the environment and the work:

"Taking part in NBTAP got my foot in the door here at the railway and gave me knowledge and experience that most people don't get until they leave school. I learned how a shop runs, and lots of useful skills I draw on every day."

Following three summer placements, Connor met with NB Southern's HR team and expressed his desire to stay with the company following high school graduation. After a year of full-time work on the shop's diesel side, he transitioned to working on railcar repairs and maintenance.

"I don't think young people realize how rewarding working in the trades can be," he says. "Sometimes it may be hard work, or dirty, but to be able to look back at the end of the day and see what you have built, fixed, etc., that's a good feeling. To be able to think 'I did that.' In my opinion, apprenticeships are a great way to learn hands-on, to know how the job actually works and what's expected of you."

  Student - Kenny


Kenny Nogueira: NBTAP Alumni, Industrial Mechanic Apprentice

Kenny is an NBTAP alumnus, and full-time NB Southern Railway employee since 2015. He credits the program with exposing him to real-world working life and showing him how to be committed to a job, always giving it 100%.

"My participation in NBTAP allowed me to get a foot in the door with a large employer in [Saint John] and have the ability to not just find a job, but have a career," he says. "The [placements] taught me very early on how to use the tools in my trade properly and gave me early experience in the field."

Getting more young people interested in skilled trades is a challenge across all sectors. Kenny's advice? Find the young people interested in the jobs, bring more employers on board. Keep sharing success stories, and showcase the environments apprentices actually work in. In a message specially for students, he says:

"Do not think that you're not good enough or smart enough to try and get where you want to be. Every opportunity you pass up is one you will not get back. Don't be afraid of the challenges or change. You will adapt and grow with them along the way. It takes time and persistence to become an expert in your field."


PALS En Route to Success

PALS (Partners Assisting Local Schools) En Route to Success is offered at the high school level for students attending St. Malachy’s Memorial High School in Saint John, NB. This four-year program provides opportunities for ninth grade students, who are selected by the faculty to participate and gain hands-on experience with mentors in the workplace.

“The personal growth of students enrolled in the En Route program is inspiring," says Bradley Stevens, principal of St. Malachy’s Memorial High School. "To observe the growth in maturity and confidence exemplifies how powerful the mentoring relationships and work-related skill building opportunities are for the students.  Students in the program show improved attendance and relationships with teachers. "

Each year students participate in a work placement at an organization in the community and upon successful completion of this placement they are offered a summer job. This means that students can both learn and have paid summer employment throughout their four years of high school.

"One of the most meaningful success stories  to me was when I was contacted by a mother of a boy in the program, Drake Lynch.  She told me she was watching her son grow and succeed  which inspired her to complete her GED," says Susan Tipper,  coordinator of the En Route to Success Program. "We were instrumental in assisting her with registering for the GED program and I am so pleased that she completed the program successfully and her son graduated from  the plumbing program at NBCC."

Our most recent En Route to Success story celebrates Matthew Beck, who recently graduated from Holland College and is now a certified fire fighter! Matt started with Plasticraft for his first two years of high school and finished with the Saint John Fire Department for his final years. Matthew excelled in his program placement and is currently at the top of the fire department's hiring list.

  Matthew Beck

His mother, Barb Beck, thanks the En Route to Success program for helping her son's dreams come true. Matt’s younger brother, Tim Beck,  is in the program now, previously placed with CFM and completing his program at Coast Tire. 

Since 2012, 68 students have enrolled in this unique program, and attained credits that fulfill part of their graduation requirements as outlined by the Department of Education in New Brunswick. 


Kent Building Supplies

In support of the learning development of Atlantic Canadian youth, Kent Building Supplies has been host to many workshops similar to the 2019 Building Night with the Topsail Beavers in Conception Bay South, NL.  Our knowledgeable staff were on hand to help the @scoutscanada group leaders and Beavers build some colourful birdhouses.



Gabe and Carson Leil are proud to be using their very own KENT gear to help their father, George Leil, Driver at KENT Stellarton, build a new deck this summer!

  Gabe and Carson 2


Kent Building Supplies is proud to sponsor trade skills competitions that see students and apprentices from across the country compete for the title of champion. In 2019 KENT sponsored the following events:

  • PEI Holland College Skills Competition 
  • Skills Canada Nova Scotia @ NSCC locations, including the Strait Area and Ivany Campus 
  • Skills Canada National Competition in Halifax 


Place aux Compétences (PAC)

Kent Homes, located in Bouctouche, NB, is a proud partner of a community-focused mentorship program, Place aux Compétences (PAC). Now in its ninth year, the program has been giving local high school students an opportunity to learn valuable in-class training and on-the-job skills in various construction and carpentry trades, as well as grow self-esteem and confidence. 

We had 7 students start out with the PAC Program this year - 5 going on to receive full time employment. These students attended École Clément-Cormier, École Mgr-Marcel-François-Richard and Polyvalente Louis-J.-Robichaud.



To learn more about World Youth Skills Day 

Go to the United Nation’s info page about the day at