Last year, we introduced you to a group of individuals, who were hoping to make a better life for themselves and their families through an apprenticeship in our union. We are happy to report that these new Canadians are well on their way toward making that hope a reality.
After having spent many hours working in the field through the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, it was time for our Syrian apprentices to return to the FTI, in order to take their learning to the next level. Although their initial seven day introduction to safety and basic paint and prep skills has served them well, it was now necessary to introduce them to our state of the art, blast and spray equipment, and allow them to develop the skills necessary to to take them to the next level.
What has been so remarkable in watching this group is how quickly they pick up on what is being taught to them, even with the language barriers they face. Industrial painting instructor and representative, Justin Chapman, remarked, “It was almost like looking at myself as I watched one of the individuals sand blasting a CAS panel. Because of the language issue, these individuals seem to have developed heightened observational skills which is helping them learn these new processes at a much faster rate than I anticipated.”
Another thing that came quickly to these students was their ability to communicate through the use of standard operating hand signals used in sand blasting. Justin commented on the abilities of the crew to work as a single unit through the use of these hand signals.
Thankfully we have also had a lot of help with translation through the assistance of our Arabic translator, Manal Nour. Manal has proved to be an invaluable resource for us, translating those pieces of information that need to be spoken rather than demonstrated. Manal even went so far as to translate our confined space entry instruction manual into Arabic on her own time. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the BC Alliance for Manufacturing, for supplying Manal and her skills to assist us in this endeavour.
Within the next couple of weeks we plan to have these apprentices back to take their forklift training here at the FTI. Every new piece of training and every new certificate that they can achieve only helps these individuals make themselves more valuable to our contractors as they become more employable.
The big test for our Syrian apprentices will be when they return to school for the first level of the Painter Decorator Red Seal apprenticeship technical training. By then we hope that their English language skills will have improved to the point where they will no longer need the assistance of a translator. Language is the only thing holding them back at this time. Once that is no longer an obstacle, the sky is the limit for these members of our union.