Jenna MacNeill was determined to change her life, and with the help of labour market programs and funding, she now has a viable career and a bright future.
Two years ago, she was unemployed or working a series of short-term minimum wage jobs. She decided to participate in a program called Trade HERizons, which helps women explore careers in trades and technology.
“Once I joined Trade HERizons, everything changed. We toured every trades program Holland College offers. When we visted Heritage Retrofit Carpentry and I built my first-ever project, Learning Manager Josh Silver sold me on the program.”
In order to get funding from SkillsPEI to cover some of the cost of tuition for the Heritage Retrofit Carpentry program, Jenna needed to be EI eligible. She found work in a seafood plant in Montague, where she was offered 40+ hours a week and free transportation from Charlottetown to the plant.
In addition to wages earned at the seafood plant, Jenna received a $1,000 Team Seafood Bursary to help with tuition. That bursary is awarded to students working more than 500 hours in a seafood plant.
SkillsPEI covered 70 percent of the cost of tuition, and with her savings from her job, the bursary, and a small student loan, she was able to afford to take the Heritage Retrofit Carpentry program. “It was a dream come true. I learned a lot about myself, I made a lot of friends, and had a great relationship with the Instructors. I found out carpentry really is my calling.”
SkillsPEI Graduate Mentorship Program
With support through the Graduate Mentorship program, Jenna was able to find a position working on the project to restore Province House in Charlottetown. The program, which is offered by SkillsPEI and funded through the Canada-PEI labour market agreements, contributes towards the graduate’s wages for training and mentorship in their field of study.
Jenna’s job duties
On the job at Province House, Jenna documents each window, door, doorframe, baseboard, floorboard, and plaster piece that is being removed. She and her fellow workers build crates to hold the pieces, wrap each piece, and tag them. After preparing the paper records she inputs the data and photos into a computer.
Jenna has been promoted to Site Safety Officer. In addition, she has begun the apprenticeship process and is planning to go on to earn her Red Seal.
A changed life
“I am now moving in a good direction instead of wondering how I will put food on the table,” says Jenna. “The programs I used showed me that there is a lot more out there for me than the random jobs I had before.”
The supervisor’s perspective
“Six graduates of Heritage Retrofit Carpentry and two from the Construction Technology program are working on this project,” says Brian Willis, one of the Site Superintendants of the Province House project. “It is a tremendous learning opportunity for everyone.”
For more information about the Graduate Mentorship program, visit www.skillspei.com and click Programs for Job Seekers.
For a video about Jenna MacNeill, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5_eofIctgA.
For more about Trade HERizons, call Women’s Network PEI at 902-368-5040 or visit www.wnpei.org.