Workplace Alternative Trades Training (WATT) program graduate Kurtis is enjoying his newfound career path in the trades following a successful transition from a decade-plus career as a culinary chef. Kurtis’ shift to electrical was brought on by a combination of passion and necessity and has resulted in a successful start to a trades apprenticeship.
“[Getting into electrical] was a bit of circumstance,” admitted Kurtis. “I was a chef for 11, 12 years. I loved doing what I did but I was getting a little tired of it, and then COVID happened—the whole industry got shut down and I lost my job permanently.”
Kurtis’ decision to enter the trades industry was made easier by that fact that his friends were already employed in construction, opening up opportunities for him to help them on various projects during his free time while working as a chef. After losing his position to COVID-related circumstances, he made the decision to enter the trades industry.
Kurtis applied, and was accepted into WATT’s electrical pre-apprenticeship program, where applicants compete a part-time, two-week safety and readiness course before participating in the three-week, intensive, hands-on WATT program. After successfully completing WATT, graduates are equipped with multiple industry certifications, basic tools, and hands-on experience to prepare them for the electrical field.
“WATT has given me a career in every possible way,” said Kurtis. “I guarantee I would not be doing what I’m doing with Thomis Electric today if it weren’t for WATT. I’m not trying to exaggerate, but I’m serious when I say that if it wasn’t for that program, I wouldn’t be close to where I am right now.
“I was interested in electrical and wanted to do it, but there were waitlists that were two-and-a-half, three years long. It was kind of crazy and the fact that the money component was there as well-made WATT the perfect avenue. Overall, my WATT experience was positive and awesome.”
Kurtis’ transition from WATT graduate to working in the field was almost immediate, with the former chef receiving an opportunity with Victoria-based electrical contractor Thomis Electric before he had completed the WATT program.
“I got a call on Thursday and finished WATT on Friday, so it was kind of perfect,” recalled Kurtis. “Emilie at WATT was reinforcing that we might have to wait for a little bit—a couple weeks or months—before we heard from a company, and I barely had to wait a day. Since then, I’ve been working with Thomis Electric. I like them, they’re awesome and I’m a pre-apprentice now. I’m a ‘Watt-ling’, as they call us.”
WATT has provided Kurtis and select colleagues with opportunities in the electrical field and, perhaps, even a head-start in a competitive and challenging work environment.
“I work with a couple guys who also did the WATT program months and years before me, and we always joke about how we already had our tools and how there’s some things that WATT taught us that we’re seemingly teaching guys who have been doing this longer than we have.
“We feel like we kind of got a leg up with WATT, which is always nice. Especially when you’re the new guy.”
For more information on Workplace Alternative Trades Training, please visit the Construction Foundation of BC’s website at www.constructionfoundation.ca/watt.
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