Trade: Apprentice Electricians
Employer: Keldon Electric Ltd.
Location: Kelowna, BC
At the Keldon Electric office in Kelowna, British Columbia, there are a couple things you’re guaranteed to find on any given work day. Birk Hoehn, the Human Resources Manager, will be in his office that has earned the nickname “The Bat Cave” as Keldon’s central control room. A driver will be loading the company truck with equipment and materials for the crews out on sites. And Sparky, the stray cat who found a day-time home in the Keldon workshop, will come to say a timid hello to staff and visitors.
Keldon Electric has been serving the Okanagan Valley and all of British Columbia for over 30 years. Today, they employ 44 apprentices between two offices in Kelowna and Penticton. Brett Halston and Josh Pavlakovic are two of those apprentices, and they are also STEP participants.
Brett is a Third Year Apprentice Electrician, currently working as a driver. Josh is a Second Year Apprentice Electrician, currently attending Okanagan College for his in-class training. Their journey to the trades is similar, a more common story for tradespeople.
“I was first intrigued with the trade because my grandfather was an electrician, so I thought I’d explore the trade and found out I enjoy the type of work it involves,” says Josh
“I have a lot of family in the trades and they steered me towards an electrician,” says Brett.
While family ties guided them to their trade, it would be the STEP team that guided them to an employer and apprenticeships – their futures in the trades.
“I became connected with STEP when they came into our classroom one day to speak about their services. They were able to help me find work with Keldon Electric and helped set me up with courses. For me personally, STEP helped get me in a First Aid Course and a CSTS construction safety course,” says Josh.
While STEP can assist with employer connections, the team can also provide those extra supports and benefits, such as short-term tickets and tools, along with pre-employment and post employment tips to ensure a job seeker is ready to work and set up for success.
“STEP helped me write my resume and connected me with Keldon Electric. They got me an interview and they helped me buy tools,” says Brett. “I’d recommend STEP, there’s no downside.”
The STEP team works hard to develop and maintain strong relationships with the construction employers in their communities. The Regional Employment Placement Specialists (REPS) are part of the construction industry and understand how it works.
“We have very good relationships with employers and the training institutes. We know what’s hot and what’s not. We’re on the front lines,” says David Croteau, STEP REPS in Kelowna.
This ensures job seekers are connected to the employer and the trade that is the right fit. A job seeker can receive one-on-one career development advice from the REPS that’s specific to the construction industry and the community they live in.
For Josh and Brett, they’re thankful to STEP for the guidance and employer connection.
“Keldon Electric is great. They offer a variety of work which is great as an apprentice. I’m still figuring out what I like and don’t really like and where I want to settle in the field. It’s great to start out in and try a lot of different opportunities and sites,” says Josh.
“Keldon is a great company to work for, they’ve kept me employed for the year and a half. No complaints,” says Brett.
As for Birk in “The Bat Cave”, he speaks with pride about Keldon’s apprentices. He understands how important it is to support the next generation of tradespeople.
“It’s such a successful, satisfying feeling to have a worker come in, new and fresh, and see the development and maturity that they have within the trade. Then with the steady employment, and they set up a family – house and home – it’s really a success and development,” says Birk.
Given the current skilled labour shortage in British Columbia, with 11,700 construction jobs expected to be unfilled due to labour shortage by 2027, STEP understands the importance of apprenticeships and remains committed to building BC’s construction workforce.
“The sky’s the limit. The sky’s the limit once they get enrolled into an apprenticeship and see it through,” says David Croteau, STEP REPS.
And that’s a guarantee because a completed apprenticeship earns a Red Seal, and as Birk says, that’s “a ticket to life”.