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World Youth Skills Day: Empowering our Future with Skills and Opportunities


On World Youth Skills Day, we want to raise awareness and acknowledge the importance of youth skills 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 7,500 full time hires over the next three years and over 700 of those roles are for skilled trades.

New Brunswick Teen Apprenticeship Program (NBTAP)
Since 2013, JDI has proudly participated in The New Brunswick Teen Apprentice Program (NBTAP), an industry-led apprenticeship program for grades 10 and 11 students. This program provides an excellent opportunity for those interested in pursuing a career in skilled trades to benefit from a paid work experience with a mentor. NBTAP Student Apprentices learn practical trade and workplace skills that will help them get a head start. Over their summer work terms, students are coached and mentored on the job, learning practical trade and workplace skills.

We're excited to introduce Donald Maston, Cody Gilbert, Logan Jeffery, and Tyson Stilwell (L to R), who are currently doing their summer apprenticeships at Grand Lake Timber! Cody, Donald, and Tyson are training to become Industrial Mechanics and Logan is learning skills to be a Welder. 

 NBTAP - 2019


Cody shares why he wants to become an industrial mechanic “I like putting things together and taking them apart. I chose to do this trade to see if its what I want to do in the future, gain some experience, and make money while doing it”.

 Cody Gilbert - NBTAP - 2019


"I love to fix things and work with my hands. I enjoy being able to figure out why the equipment is not working” says Donald who wants to get his Red Seal and eventually work as an Industrial Mechanic at the Sawmill in Chipman.

 Donald Matson - NBTAP - 2019


Tyson plans to go to NBCC after his apprenticeship for further training to be an Industrial Mechanic. He says“I enjoy fixing things and I thought that this would a good trade to learn”

 Tyson Stillwell - NBTAP - 2019


Logan, who is learning to be a Welder says “I like working on engines, and I was interested in learning something new for the future”.

 Logan Jeffrey - NBTAP - 2019


Over the past eight years, NBTAP has helped over 180 students learn valuable workplace skills through work placements. NBTAP facilitates the early connection between industries with skilled trades workers and young New Brunswickers.

Learn more at


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.

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!

Since 2012, 35 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. These students were able to gain hands-on experience and learn by doing. Research shows that this is the most meaningful method of learning for students.

”I consider it a privilege to work these students. Some kids are not wired to sit in a classroom all day and learn better by doing.” says Susan Tipper, PALS High School Coordinator. “Providing students, who are at risk, the opportunity to achieve their graduation requirements in an alternate environment has proven to be very successful. Most students who have completed this program have gone on to post-secondary education, been hired by their work placement or have sought employment elsewhere.  It is a pleasure to work with these students.” 

 PALS En Route to Success - 2019


Meet some of the recent students, Amber and Mikailyn, who got the opportunity to build their careers through PALS En Route to Success. Amber Lyons, Linda Cavanaugh (Embroidery supervisor), Mikailyn LaPierre, and Anne Morrow. (left to right) 

Amber Lyons says “Chandler Sales was one of the best opportunities I have been given as it pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I learned so many good life lessons. I don’t think I could ever repay you for this.” 

Mikailyn LaPierre says “Working at Chandler Sales was one of my favorite things I was given the opportunity to do during my high school career. I am thankful for the many lessons you have taught me and for the love you showed me.”

 PALS En Route to Success - 2019 - 2


Meet Aaron Shonaman  (right) and CFM employee Irason Nickerson. Aaron says "I would not have made it through high school if it were not for this program!" 


Place aux Compétences (PAC)
Kent Homes, located in Bouctouche, NB, is a proud partner of a community-focused mentorship program called Place aux Compétences (PAC). Now in its eighth year, the program has a high success rate - 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.

“J.D. Irving, Limited has been an active participant in the Place aux Compétences’ youth training program through its Kent Homes division in Bouctouche. Students gain valuable work experience, a renewed sense of confidence and appreciation for the hard work and dedication needed to serve customers in a competitive marketplace.” says Suzanne Gagnon, Director, New Brunswick French International Student Program at Place aux Compétences. 

This year, 9 students did an 8-week work term and 4 of them were hired full time. In addition, 6 summer students were trained and hired through the program this year.

 PAC Students - 2019


Since 2012, around 50 students have had the opportunity to build their skills and learn from committed mentors.


Skills Canada National Competition
J.D. Irving, Limited and the Halifax Shipyard were proud to support the Skills Canada National Competition (SCNC) held in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The goal and objective of the SCNC is to engage and promote all of the exciting careers that are available to Canadians in the skilled trades and technologies. It is the only national multi-trade and technology event of its kind for students and apprentices in the country.

This year’s event was a four-day fierce competition with over 550 students and apprentices of various ages from across the country competing for the title of national champion in 44 skilled trades and technologies at the Halifax Exhibition Centre. 



During the SCNC, approximately 7,500 student visitors, industry leaders, government officials and several industry celebrities were in attendance to take part in some of the onsite activities such as the Essential Skills Stage and over 50 Try-A-Trade® and Technology activities. Many JDI employees volunteered at the interactive booth where there were welding and harvesting simulators for students to try-a-trade.   


Girls STEM Up
The J.D. Irving, Limited 2019 Girls STEM Up Conference was the first event of its kind in Atlantic Canada and was huge success! Over 250 delegates attended and the entrance was flooded with high school and university students who were interested in learning about the opportunities for females in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), and to hear from those in the workforce to gain knowledge of their future through other's experiences. Hear directly from the amazing women who attended, organized and inspired others at the conference.



The objective of the conference is to empower women and celebrate diversity across the traditional STEM fields, where women have been historically underrepresented. Event organizers drove conversations about the opportunities and barriers facing omen of all ages from pursuing careers or further education in STEM.

Girls STEM Up is open to women enrolled in high school or post-secondary education, as well as Allies (students who do not identify as women but support stronger female representation). 


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.     

 Pathways ANs - 2019


Pathways to Shipbuilding African Nova Scotian Students celebrated their first milestone on journey to become shipbuilders.

Last December, the class celebrated the end of the 14-week preparatory program. The celebration was particularly special as all 20 students successfully completed the mandatory introductory program and will move on to start their two-year welding diploma at NSCC. The students began their welding program in January 2019 and are scheduled to graduate in the spring of 2020. 

In total, 37 graduates of the Halifax Shipyard's Pathways programs with NSCC are now employed building the next generation of ships for Canada.

Books for Young Students

Every year the Irving Paper team gives new books for young students at Glen Falls school in Saint John. The books go to Glen Falls School Literacy Night, hosted annually for parents and students. 

 Irving Paper - Literacy Night - 2019



Ocean Literacy Toolkit 

The Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE), supported by Irving Shipbuilding, are excited to increase ocean literacy in classrooms by introducing the Taking Making into Classrooms: Ocean Toolkit. The Marine People Partnership, operating through COVE, facilitated a multi-day conference for 50+ educators from across Nova Scotia on experiential ocean education. The input from the teachers during this conference helped formulate the Ocean Toolkit which will allow teachers to foster more ocean literacy and stewardship in their classrooms.  

 Ocean Literacy Tool Kit - 2019



Skills Connection Program

This is an interesting initiative that has been in place for several years in Kent County, New Brunswick to improve participation of young people in the labor market. The ‘Skills Connection’ program allows 12 participants each academic year to receive basic training in construction over eight weeks with qualified instructors. 

The training takes place at the Kent Homes plant, a major employer in the Kent region, which specializes in the construction of prefabricated houses.  This year, 9 of the 12 participants enrolled in the program were employed by Kent Homes at the end of their training. To date, over 150 young people have benefited from this program and several are still employed by Kent Homes. 

The success of this project is due in large part to the collaboration of several partners:

  • Kent Homes in Bouctouche
  • Glenwood in Shediac 
  • École  Clement Cormier (ECC)) in Bouctouche
  • École Mgr-Marcel-François-Richard  in Saint-Louis-de-Kent 
  • École Louis-J.-Robichaud  in Shediac, the Francophone Sud school district,
  • Kent Community Inclusion Network
  • Service Canada and the non-profit organization Place Aux Competences


Growing from Store Floor to Career
A first job with KENT can be your next step to a rewarding career. At KENT, 93 of the people on the management team of 142 started in an entry level role with Kent or an affiliate J.D. Irving company. That’s 65% of KENT leadership team promoted from within! Many more have progressed into critical specialist and professional roles with training investments from the company. Watch the journey:




At JDI, we believe in developing our youth today, for a skilled tomorrow!


To learn more about World Youth Skills Day 

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