P.E.I. plumber paying it forward by searching for untapped talent

·2 min read
High Valley Plumbing and Heating owner Brad MacAulay wants to help someone start a career in the trades without having to go through post-secondary education. (Brittany Spencer/CBC - image credit)
High Valley Plumbing and Heating owner Brad MacAulay wants to help someone start a career in the trades without having to go through post-secondary education. (Brittany Spencer/CBC - image credit)

The owner of a plumbing company on Prince Edward Island says he's trying a new approach to attract new people to the industry.

Brad MacAulay, owner of High Valley Heating and Plumbing, placed a post on the company's Facebook page on Monday saying he wanted to "try something different" when recruiting his next hire.

Instead of selecting a candidate based on experience, the only requirement for this job is that the applicant be ready to learn and keen to work in the trades.

"I'm looking for somebody that may not have been the straight-A student — somebody that loves to tinker, that loves just trying new things, and that's good with their hands," he said.

Brittany Spencer/CBC
Brittany Spencer/CBC

When MacAulay entered the trades more than 20 years ago, he had next to no construction knowledge or experience, he recalled. By chance, he found an employer who was willing to bring him on and train him.

Now, he thinks it's time to pay the good fortune forward.

"I just want to give something back that was given to me, so to speak," he said. "Give someone a chance [who] could have been in my position."

Over the past two decades, MacAulay established his own business, and even spent some time working as an instructor at Holland College. He hopes that by investing in training someone like his younger self, he'll end up with a worker who will form a lasting interest in the job.

"I'm just trying to create a spark for someone and hopefully create a career out of it for them."

'We have to be creative'

The new hire comes at a particularly busy time in the construction industry. MacAulay said like many other businesses, High Valley Plumbing and Heating is struggling to find staff. Opening the doors to someone new might be a way to solve that.

Sam Sanderson, general manager of the Construction Association of P.E.I., agrees.

Brittany Spencer/CBC
Brittany Spencer/CBC

"This is becoming a very common practice, more so now than ever before, because of the lack of labour and the availability of skilled tradespeople," he said.

"We have to be creative to create those opportunities, bring awareness about the opportunities and give people a chance."

As for MacAulay, he's received dozens of applications since Monday, ranging from people fresh out of high school to those looking for a career change. He plans to read every single one before moving forward with interviews and the final selection.

"We are in people's homes all the time. We're in people's comfort spots, right?" he said. "I want to make sure the right person comes with us."