The work of custom wood framing apprentice Blair Jones is top notch.
At work sites he adapts and learns quickly, working alongside colleagues to accomplish tasks.
But Blair is unlike most of his peers in the trades in that he is a paraplegic, having endured a spinal cord injury at the age of 17 while mountain biking.
As a paraplegic and despite significant skills, Blair has always struggled with accessibility at job sites and employers keeping their word to keep him busy.
“Finding career focused work in the trades with a spinal cord injury is not easy,” he says. “But anything is possible when you put your mind to it.”
That positive attitude led Blair to connect with Jeremy McIntosh of SVT Custom Framing. Jeremy hired Blair as a first-year carpenter apprentice and went to work on making job sites accessible to his new hire. Jeremy’s efforts were supported by a $10,000 grant from the Apprentice Hiring Project (AHP) at Okanagan College which provides cash incentives for hiring first-year apprentices.
”I've taken Blair on as a first-year apprentice and his work is excellent,” said Jeremy, “The grant money I receive from the program will be used to make one of my site trailers completely wheelchair accessible with a ramp installed for both doors, and I'm also going to invest in a set of tools for Blair.”
Jeremy, Blair and their team also put their heads together to create a pack-out system for Blair to carry all the tools he needs from the trailer to the job site.
“When I first spoke with Jeremy, his openness to seeing what I could do was the break I waiting for,” said Blair. “I am extremely grateful to have been presented this opportunity and I’m excited to see where this apprenticeship leads me.”
The Apprentice Hiring Project makes funds available to small and medium-sized enterprises that hire new first year apprentices across 39 red seal construction and manufacturing trades. Employers receive $5,000 when they hire a new first-year or $10,000 if the person voluntarily self-identifies from an equity-deserving group.
“We’re working hard to help students enter the workforce and the Apprentice Hiring Project allows us to help connect apprentices with local businesses who are looking for skilled workers.” said Stephen Speers, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship at Okanagan College. “At Okanagan College, we’ve got skilled instructors working with students in small classes, providing the hands-on training that is key to getting into a great career.”
The AHP is funded by the Government of Canada’s Apprenticeship Service and is administrated by Okanagan College for employers in the Interior.
If you are interested in hiring a first-year apprentice, apply for the Apprentice Hiring Project here or by calling 250-762-5445 ext. 4479.