For Jenna Vocal, membership in the Pile Drivers, Divers, Bridge, Dock and Wharf Builders Local 2404 has provided her with the tools and support for a rewarding career in an industry some may not associate with women tradespeople.
As an Indigenous female who completed her Bridgeworker & Piledriver apprenticeship in May, Vocal says that anyone with the drive and capability can succeed in the industry.
“I don’t think it should only be men working in these trades,” Vocal says. “If you can do the work, you belong here, so I encourage anyone at all who’s considering it.”
The Pile Drivers Local 2404 – which celebrated 100 years in 2020 – is affiliated under the Canadian District of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and represents 800 members in the land foundation, bridge building and marine construction industry throughout B.C. and Western Canada.
Their apprenticeship program is recognized by the Industry Training Authority and provided by Local 2404 Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) at their Delta training centre, and includes:
- Pile Driver/Bridgeworker apprenticeship classes.
- Safety training as required by signatory contractors
- Support equipment training
- CWB welder certification
While challenging, participating in the training programs, brought many rewards, Vocal says.
“It was great working with people who’ve been there longer than me, and it gave me exposure within the union,” Vocal says. “The first year of the program was pretty intense. There was a lot of information and a lot to learn – they call it boot camp!”
However, she’s quick to note that both during her training and now in her job – working for Vancouver Pile Driving, a Piledrivers Local 2404 signatory contractor – there’s always someone ready to help.
“I’ve always felt very supported,” Vocal says. “No matter the issue, someone always has the answer and is always there to help.
“It’s also helpful coming into the trade if you have any experience with welding or carpentry. I was a carpenter first, which is definitely an asset where I am now.”
Vocal is also co-chair of the Sisters in the Brotherhood Committee, and as the first woman working in the yard at Vancouver Pile Driving – a 100-year-old company – she invites others who might be interested in participating in the programs.
“We want to let people know that it’s a women-friendly place. The union has 1150 members and only about 25 women, so our aim is to encourage other women to get into the trade.”