Partnership connects builder with potential employees

Partnership connects builder with potential employees

PCL Construction believes NAIT-trained graduates have a valuable role in its growth

If anyone can testify to the strength and resilience of PCL Construction’s relationship with NAIT, it’s Ian Johnston, a member of the NAIT-PCL Partnership Committee from the very beginning.

“I think I was the last original member of that committee,” says the now-retired chief operating officer for the company’s industrial arm.

PCL has also been a major donor to NAIT since 1986. It supports scholarships and bursaries annually and kicked in to support campus development projects like the Centre for Steel Technologies. And, in 2013, the company announced a $500,000 gift to support skills training.

 “We use the partnership as a way of accessing great people.”

Although he’s quick to spread around the credit for its successes, his peers will tell you Johnston paved the way to ensuring the partnership committee effectively meets the company’s recruitment goals.

A strong partnership supporting students   

Over the years, PCL’s support has included meet-and-greet student events, scholarships for top students and program advisory committees dedicated to putting PCL’s senior people together with NAIT instructors for discussions devoted to meeting industry needs.

In fact, the relationship is so strong and natural that NAIT held an alumni function at PCL’s Edmonton offices in 2010.

“PCL builds some of the most exciting projects out there.”

As a major employer of NAIT students and graduates in programs like skilled trades, project management, field management, estimating, engineering technologies, finance and administration, PCL has relied on the polytechnic to provide good people to fuel its growth.

PCL’s annual construction volume in buildings, civil infrastructure and heavy industrial now exceeds $8 billion. With headquarters in Edmonton, the company’s reach is now global. PCL employees with NAIT roots now work on projects across the continent.

Jon Bowes is one of them. He spent the summer of 2012, in between his first and second year of his diploma in Civil Engineering Technology, working for the company on projects in Fort McMurray. When he graduated NAIT in 2013, the company offered him a full-time job.

“PCL builds some of the most exciting projects out there,” says Bowes, now a project coordinator with PCL. “And as a company owned 100% owned by its employees, we have a financial stake in seeing the company succeed. Your company’s success is tied to your success.”

Changes are coming to how the industry does business

Johnston (pictured right) predicts that the partnership committee will continue to be vital to discuss how the company navigates technological changes and responds to productivity challenges.

PCL is focused on two primary educational areas: the trades and the technical disciplines. Both are important to PCL—and will continue to be. Over the years, the company has employed thousands of tradespeople and hundreds of technically trained staff who have been educated in NAIT’s classrooms.

“If I could give one piece of advice to today’s graduates, it would be to find a way of separating yourselves from your competition.”

“If I could give one piece of advice to today’s graduates, it would be to find a way of separating yourselves from your competition,” explains Bowes, who attends NAIT’s career fair and industry night for construction engineering on behalf of PCL.

“Demonstrate to employers what makes you unique, and understand how to convey that concisely.”

Published on March 16, 2018