Algonquin College Carpentry and Renovation Graduate Apprenticeship with Laurentian Valley Homebuilder


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Madison Broad loved working with her hands and often renovated and upgraded her bedroom as she grew up.


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This included doing small projects, helping his dad around the house, painting his room or redoing the floors. She was never afraid to get her hands dirty or avoid the physical aspects of projects.

Today, the graduate of Algonquin College’s Pembroke Campus Carpentry and Renovation Techniques program and Weston Family Foundation alumnus is putting her skills to use by working on her apprenticeship in general carpentry with the goal of earning a Red Seal designation.

Broad apprenticed at Dugan Hawkins Construction, a Laurentian Valley company with nearly 35 years of experience building homes from scratch, allowing him to see all aspects of the construction process. After speaking with his program coordinator Adam Johns last year, he helped set up an interview with Hawkins. While still finishing the one-year college program, Broad started working one day a week because she didn’t have classes on Fridays. Sadly, the pandemic struck and she was away for a few months before Hawkins inquired about whether she was still interested in carpentry. When she answered with a definite yes, he took her full-time on June 1, 2020.

As a first year apprentice she started out doing odd jobs like cleaning around sites and eventually worked her way up to cutting studs and doing more and more as the year went on.

“There are two foremen who are very smart and patient with me and also support me,” Broad said in a recent telephone interview.


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To earn the Red Seal designation, Broad must complete 7,200 hours of work, which she says will take four to five years.

“It’s a process because there is so much to learn; so many little details, ”she said.

She admitted that after graduating from high school in her native Espanola, she wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do, so she took a year off. During this time, she began to learn about her family history and found out that she came from a line of carpenters and thought maybe it was in her blood, so she decided to give it a try. , and she is happy with this decision.

When she applied to college, she started looking for scholarships and founded the Weston Family Foundation. After meeting Kerri-Lynn Gleason, project manager for the Weston Family Foundation Skilled Trades Initiative, Broad was successful and received a scholarship from the foundation, which has long supported excellence in education – one that increases recruitment, retention and the employability of post-secondary students and apprentices starting their careers in the skilled trades.

For more than 60 years, the foundation has worked with a wide range of Canadian organizations to advance world-class research, explore new ideas and create tangible benefits for the communities in which it works. Algonquin College is proud to partner with the Weston Family Foundation to recognize students in apprenticeship and skilled trades programs on all Algonquin College campuses.


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Thanks to this initiative, 95 post-secondary students and 70 apprentices will benefit from more than 365 scholarships. The awards will be presented to students pursuing careers in transportation, manufacturing and construction, industries that are currently experiencing labor shortages in Canada. Beyond financial assistance, these Weston Family Fellows will also receive ongoing social and professional support, including mentoring and extracurricular activities.

Gleason hosts a coffee and chat session for women in the trades through Zoom, which Broad enjoys attending. These meetings are intended for women who are former students or current students.

“We’re talking about work, so it’s great fun getting in touch with other women in the trades,” Broad said. “It’s nice to feel the support of other women, even if they’re not in carpentry, and it’s nice to have the perspective of other women as well. “

Hawkins also has a strong connection to the Algonquin College campus in Pembroke after teaching for two years in the General Carpentry Apprenticeship Program. All of his employees have also completed the apprenticeship program at Pembroke, which he describes as an excellent program.

Since joining the tight-knit team at Dugan Hawkins Construction, Broad has fitted in well, according to Hawkins.

“She has a genuine interest in what she is doing, which is a major obstacle,” he said. “If you love what you do, you can be great. She came with a good skill set from the program and has expanded it since being with us.


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He also thinks it’s important for employees to see all aspects of building a house so they can understand all the stages of building a house.

“They see all aspects of building a house, from the foundation to the finish; there aren’t too many companies here doing the whole process, ”he noted. “Usually, employees only see certain aspects of the construction, but to have someone with a well-rounded skill base, they have to see everything. It is important that they understand why they are doing the things and the science behind the process.

Hawkins is always happy to support apprentices with the looming shortage in the skilled trades. He believes that trades careers should be encouraged in high school. He remembers, when he was in high school, the trades that we proposed and that we considered as a last resort, but that perception has to change because they are well paying jobs.

He said that with the recent construction boom it was almost impossible to find skilled tradespeople because everyone is so busy. Looking at the demographics of people in the trades, he noted that between 60% and 70% of people are in their 50s or over and will leave all trades within a 10-year window.

“We need more people going into the trades that end up being good quality people,” he said.

Hawkins has always encouraged his employees to get their tickets and learn as much as possible. He said taking side jobs in the evenings and weekends, like building fences or decks, is also an important part of the process as it helps them gain experience on their own projects, but also allows them interact with owners and customers.

“If they want to work the hours, they might as well get the ticket, acquire skills in the trades or deal with administration, debts and receivables and the cost of materials and deal with the public,” he said. added.

When Broad is not working, she takes advantage of the natural environment of the Ottawa Valley, including going on an adventure in Algonquin Park with her cat.

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