The right START to a bright future


Paul Duykers, now a Red Seal certified carpenter, remembers the “old school” days of what it was like to be an apprentice.

Duykers has been the general manager of construction at Maples Retirement Living in Antigonish, N.S., for 12 years and oversees the construction work of 13 to 15 duplexes (26 to 30 units) each year. With his employer, Steve Smith, owner of Maples Retirement Living, Duykers wants to attract and retain apprentices by creating a welcoming workplace and a positive learning culture.

Plumbers, carpenters, electricians and concrete finishers are among the trades professionals they either employ or sub-contract. However, like many other builders throughout Nova Scotia, Duykers and Smith are feeling the effects of the skilled labour shortage. Recognizing the need to attract and retain skilled trade professionals, Smith offers construction workers perks like financial bonuses and helpful courtesies – such as access to a heated lunch trailer.

“Because most of our work happens at one worksite, we have been able to offer our workers the use of a lunch trailer where they can go to get warm. There are microwaves for heating up lunches, a fridge to keep things cool, and water to stay hydrated,” said Duykers. “Once a week, we receive a free meal that everyone can enjoy together, which is another benefit for us.”

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