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Career Pathways

bfi welder welder and metal worker discuss

People come into the construction industry with all kinds of backgrounds, from many different places and at various stages in their working lives.

There are two main entryways into unionized construction:

  1. Go to the union hall representing the trade that you are interested in, and indicate that you would like to join. The union will administer a number of tests, after which you may be able to join the union, and will then be placed on a pre-apprentice list. The union then liaises with labour providers and, when a suitable opening appears, you can bid to work with that company.
  2. During times of labour scarcity, labour providers are able to hire pre-apprentice candidates directly. That means interested individuals should check with labour providers such as BFI to see whether this path is currently available. Directly hired pre-apprentices then become members of the local union hall.

From there, employees embark on their apprenticeships, which normally last four years and include course work at an accredited post-secondary institution as well as a required number of paid employment hours. At the end of this period, they become journeymen.

In addition to providing continuing direct support for all apprentices throughout their educational period, BFI is very supportive of journeymen who wish to move into leadership positions. Experienced, skilled and committed journeymen can become foremen, and those demonstrating strong leadership skills can become general foremen. The categories of foreman and general foreman are within the collective agreement and provide compensation 15-25 percent above base wages.

Those with exceptional skills and an excellent track record of accomplishment, safety and inter-personal skills have a further opportunity at BFI: moving into a supervisory role outside the collective agreement, as a construction superintendent and, from there, project managers and/or construction manager. These are some of the most interesting and senior positions available in the construction industry. Compensation is commensurate with the responsibility and experience needed to manage these varying-sized projects.

At the end of a tradesperson’s working career, the certified tradesperson is eligible for a pension provided through the collective agreement.