male construction worker
female baker
male truck driver
Female Lab worker

September 2023

Construction and Road Maintenance Experience leads to an Apprenticeship for Ackeem

Ackeem came to Thunder Bay from Jamaica in October 2021.  He knew that there were promising opportunities in both construction and mining here, so he made the bold decision to head to the city to start his career.  He found work almost right away, but quickly realized that a lot of the construction jobs in the region are seasonal.  As the cold winter crept in, Ackeem received a layoff.  By February, he was struggling to find work that could carry him through the winter months and that’s when he discovered the assistance available through YES.

Ackeem’s father had already been living in Thunder Bay for about 10 years.  He knew about YES Employment Services and he recommended that Ackeem look in to our programs and services.   Ackeem had experience, enthusiasm, and a strong work ethic but he did not have a network of friends or professional connections in the city.  Through the connections he made at YES, Ackeem was able to explore several options before landing on the assistance available to him through the Youth Job Connection (YJC) program.

Employment Ontario’s YJC program starts with 60 hours of paid training.  The fact that he was receiving an income as soon as he began the program was a big plus for Ackeem.  He got a good feel for the skills and expectations required to be successful on the job.  What Ackeem found most valuable, however was the employer connections that were now open to him when he started working with our Employer Relations team. 

Tracy Laffin met with Ackeem and recognized his ambition and his willingness to take on jobs that required physical labour.  After their discussion, she reached out to Emcon Services Inc. as they were looking for road maintenance staff.  Ackeem was a great fit for the business. Tracy organized a successful meet and greet and set up a placement.   The training and experience that Ackeem gained in his placement at Emcon expanded his skills even further.  More importantly, the placement helped him build some solid connections that would lead to another exciting opportunity.  With his placement almost complete, Ackeem already had his eye on the next step in his career.

One of Ackeem’s new friends had started working with the Carpenter’s Union.  They started chatting and Ackeem zoned in on the idea of starting an apprenticeship.  Becoming a tradesperson was such an exciting prospect for Ackeem that he arranged to speak to the union right away.  The sign-up process went smoothly.  Ackeem secured WHMIS, and Working at Heights training to qualify for the apprenticeship.  He also had to complete an exam to assess his math skills.  Once the sign-up was complete, Ackeem began working with the union.  Right now his work focuses on framing, ICF walls, and concrete slabs.   It will take about 5 years to complete the 9000 hours that Ackeem needs to become a Carpenter.

Ackeem is looking forward to a very bright future.  He likes the idea of eventually putting his carpentry skills to work at some of the mines in the region.  Mine schedules that follow 2 weeks in and two weeks off appeal to Ackeem.  This might allow more trips back home to Jamaica.  He even talked about getting trained in Diamond Drilling.  With this kind of ambition, we know that Ackeem will continue to take on challenges and work hard to reach his career goals.  When asked what YES helped him with the most, Ackeem explained that in a new city, connections are all-important and that is what YES programs and services provided.  We want to congratulate Ackeem on all his success.  We also want to thank Emcon for providing meaningful work to Ackeem. 

If you are in need of support or connections, connect with YES.  You can call us 807-623-0768, e-mail:, or request an appointment here:  Connect with YES – YES Employment Services (

Newsletter Sign-Up

Subscribe to our Newsletter to stay up-to-date with YES Events and Success Stories!