FMF CB expands apprenticeship program

FMF Apprenticeship

Left: Chris Schreyer, millwright apprentice at Fleet Maintenance Facility, gets guidance from journeyman machinist and marine mechanic Mike Cato while making repairs to a Padeye. The device is used by Canadian warships for replenishment at sea.

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Apprentices are set to become the next generation of highly skilled tradespeople at Fleet Maintenance Facility (FMF) Cape Breton.

They are young and well trained, and ready to fill the vacancies left by retiring employees in the ship repair unit over the coming years.

A path to employment for program enrollees is carved over four years with both hands-on and vocational training, ending with a trade certification.

Program enrolment at FMF will dramatically increase in the next two years to meet the demand for new workers in 15 trades.

Richard Turnbull, Weapons Shop and Underwater Weapons Work Centre manager, says he’s been telling everyone with an interest in becoming part of their workforce to enroll because the hiring rate for apprentices to full-time employment is almost 95 per cent.

Speaking knowledgably as a former apprentice of 1989, he says mentoring from seasoned tradespeople is vital in developing the next wave of employees.   

“It’s really an effort to transfer knowledge from an experienced workforce that won’t be working here forever and will soon be moving on to retirement,” said Turnbull. “We need to bring people in here fairly quickly and apprentices are a huge part of that.”

President of the Apprentice Association Shawn Fiset, also a Millwright Apprentice in his third year, says FMF’s focus is on quality, not quantity, of work completed by apprentices.

“One of the huge advantages over many private sector outlets is you are given the time to learn and are not just a body to accomplish a task,” he says. “They want to make sure people who work at these trades know their job and how to do it well.”

Apprentices start off with a base hourly wage of $18.74, with regular incremental increases over four years climbing as high as $35.61 an hour for some trades. They also have the benefit of receiving their Red Seal Certification through the B.C. Industry Training Authority. The certification process also allows them to apply for grants and tax credits offered by the provincial and federal governments.

FMF’s program success has also come with accolades. In November 2017, the unit received a Certificate of Recognition from the Industry Training Authority of B.C. for its commitment to training apprentices and investing in B.C.’s skilled labour workforce.

Turnbull says interested candidates can get more information by visiting the Government of Canada’s jobs website:

Available trades

  • electrician
  • electroplater
  • shipwright/joiner
  • lagger
  • millwright
  • painter
  • pipefitter
  • refrigeration mechanic
  • steel fabricator/boilermaker
  • sailmaker/rigger
  • sheet metal fabricator
  • welder
  • machinist
  • diesel engine mechanic
  • crane operator

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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  1. Brennah says:

    I would like more information on the apprentice program for the following trades please.

    refrigeration mechanic
    crane operator

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