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Sawmills Recognized as Leading Employer with Pre-Apprentice Program


Seven years ago, J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI) was approached by the New Brunswick Teen Apprentice Program (NBTAP) to employ high school students over the summer to give them a head start on their future in the skilled trades. Since then, JDI has welcomed over 30 students, 14 of them being with the Sawmill Division. 

NBTAP is an industry-led program aimed at filling the gap forecasted in the trades over the next 10 years. The pre-apprentice program is coupling high school students and industry. Successful students have 2 or 3 paid summers of experience, and employers understand that they are introducing the next workforce into the labour market that will soon have some major gaps. Since its first cohort of students, the program has grown from 6 students at a single Saint John employer, to over 125 employers across the province, nearly 180 successful pre-apprentices, and several have completed their Red Seal certifications. 

"NBTAP offers an innovative solution to the projected skilled trades labour gap in our province. Through hands-on skilled trades development, the program works to meet the projected demand for skilled labour and create a meaningful school-to-work connection for students,"  says Lisa Steeves, Executive Director of NBTAP. "NBTAP truly values the partnerships we have with employers like JDI."

Avery McDonald, a Belleisle native, always had a knack for machinery, helping out with his father's garage. When NBTAP  presented at his school, he was eager to apply, but concerned the number of applications would heighten the competition. 

"I was ecstatic when I got the job!  I started and I loved it, so I kept coming back and they kept taking me back," said Avery of his time at the sawmill. "It allows you to see the industry. What they do, what their standards are, the safety. It gives you a jump-start."

Not only did Avery succeed in getting the placement at the Sussex Sawmill, he completed 3 summers as a pre-apprentice millwright with the Sawmill and is now working part-time at the mill while going to NBCC Saint John.

“We are pleased to have students like Avery McDonald with us at the Sussex Sawmill as part of NBTAP," said Lauren Demers, Human Resources Business Partner at the Sussex Sawmill. "We know with our projected hires in the next few years that students and skilled trades will be a critical part of our business and filling those roles. NBTAP allows students to gain practical on the job experience while creating awareness for employment possibilities with JDI in these trades”.  

Another student, Roch Parent, received the NBTAP Rising Star Award in 2016 for his pre-apprentice work-terms with the St. Leonard Sawmill. Roch is now working at the mill full-time.