Today, Jason Bien is a journeyperson carpenter and site superintendent. But before that, he was a student at the Regina Trades and Skills Centre.
It all started in 2008. Fresh out of high school at 17, Bien enrolled in the Saskatchewan Polytechnic architecture program in Moose Jaw, and then a degree program at the University of Regina, before discovering textbook learning wasn’t for him.
Growing up building things with his father, Bien felt applying to Regina Trades and Skills would be the perfect fit and a “great foot in the door to the construction industry.”
By fall 2009, the teenager was enrolled in one of the first commercial construction programs at the non-profit. It was then when the practical learning began.
“It’s like going into a job with a strict boss,” he said. “If you’re late, you’re written up. If you’re late, you lose pay.”
Two weeks after completing the eight-week course, he was hired onto a construction site.
Bien recalled his first day on the job being “nerve-wracking,” but now he’s come full circle.
“Everybody has to start somewhere. That was my starting point, and now I’m in charge of those new people walking onto construction sites,” he explained.
Seeing how far his former student has come makes retired commercial construction instructor Edward Stoyand smile.
“I couldn’t be prouder,” said Stoyand. “It’s one of the things that I really enjoyed about instructing.”
While learning practical skills is vital before picking up a hammer, Stoyand explained that teaching interpersonal skills hold equal value at Regina Trades and Skills.
“You’re more than just a number when you come into this type of program,” he said. “It’s just a good experience for the students to come through and learn the technical skills, but then learn the social aspects of entering the workforce.”
Those principles are what the Regina Trades and Skills Centre was build on in 2007. Now, celebrating its 10th anniversary, the not-for-profit hopes to keep that tradition going another decade.
“What does the next 10 years hold? Probably more of the same but expansion,” said Brian Shankowsky, Regina Trades and Skills executive director, adding that they plan to add a few new courses by next spring.
The Regina Trades and Skills Centre offers short-term, hands-on training for young adults looking to get into a variety of trades — including plumbing, welding and the culinary arts.
To date, the non-profit has a 91 per cent employment rate.