Langley resident Edward Hatashita-Lee is a top prize winner from the #YourTicket contest held during Apprenticeship Recognition Week (Nov 5 to 11). Submitted photo

Young millwright urges employers to give apprentices a chance

Apprenticeship Recognition Week recognizes impact apprentices have in B.C. communities

With Apprenticeship Recognition Week having taken place Nov 5 to 11, a first year millwright apprentice who lives in Langley has a message for potential employers.

Give apprentices a chance.

“For the foundation class for millwright at BCIT, it’s very full and there’s a very long waitlist. What I found is that only half the kids are actually getting accepted into apprenticeships,” says Edward Hatashita-Lee, 22, who works full-time at a local fruit processing company. “The industrial sector, at least, doesn’t seem to be too keen on taking on first years with no experience in an industrial environment.”

Hatashita-Lee said that by taking on apprentices, companies are investing in the future.

Industry Training Authority (ITA) apprenticeship advisor Andrew George agrees.

“You can tailor them, you can work with them, and they can learn your system,” George said.

What George refers to as “succession planning” allows young tradesmen to make their way up the ladder and bring stability to companies for years to come.

“Basically, the way we’ve handled apprenticeship in the past is we’ve pushed everybody towards academics and now we’re catching up in the trades,” he said. “So there’s a little bit of a crunch, but that being said, there’s lots of opportunity in the trades.”

Hatashita-Lee, was recently recognized by the Industry Training Authority (ITA) as a top prize winner from the #YourTicket contest held during Apprenticeship Recognition Week.

On Facebook, Hatashita-Lee submitted a photo of himself at work which was the winning entry.

“I got a picture of myself beside a big electric motor,” Hatashita-Lee said.

The critical thinking required on the job, along with the hands-on component, is what he enjoys most about his chosen career path — in other words, the use of his head and his hands.

“It’s the trade of all trades,” Hatashita-Lee said, regarding being a millwright. “You do a little bit of everything: fabrication, welding, mechanical diagnostics, (and) electrical diagnostics.”

His advice to anyone looking to get started in the skilled trades is to choose something you are passionate about, and never give up.

Since he was a kid, Hatashita-Lee has always wanted to do something “industrially.”

“I’ve always thought machine equipment was cool,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to do something industrial but I didn’t want to do something repetitive, so I figured millwright would be a good mix.”

Apprenticeship Recognition Week is provincially proclaimed and celebrated annually in November. This recognition marks a time to reflect on the impact apprentices have in B.C. communities, and to raise awareness about the importance of developing a highly trained workforce to support the province’s growing economy.

Hatashita-Lee said the millwright trade is one of the hardest ones in which to find an apprenticeship, “especially with no prior on-paper experience.”

Apprentices benefit from mentors, someone on the job with more experience who is willing to “help you out, pass on information and guide you,” said Hatashita-Lee.

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