Funding His Dream Through Trades
When Jacob Hinton was eight years old, his family moved to Fort McMurray. His dad, heavily involved in industry, decided that a move from Nanaimo, B.C. would give the family more opportunities, so move they did.
Jacob went through the usual elementary schooling, but about the time he hit 15, an opportunity presented itself. In high school he could take a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) in conjunction with Keyano College and get started on a career early.
“I always wanted to go to university, but my family was pushing hard to get me into this,” chuckled Hinton. “They were pushy, but it was likely necessary. Raising kids is sometimes like herding cats.”
So, Hinton started his Electrical RAP and spent half a year at Syncrude for forty hours a week plus overtime, if he got it, and then half a year at Westwood High School. His apprenticeship work was completed at Keyano College – at least the years he didn’t challenge.
“When Jacob came to CAREERS: The Next Generation, he had his ups and downs,” says Elaine Read, Regional Director NE of CAREERS: The Next Generation, the administrators of the RAP program. “There were valuable lessons he learned along the way that have helped him to grow and become the well-rounded, career-driven adult he is today. Jacob was highly regarded by employers he was placed with as a RAP and CO-OP student and it doesn’t surprise me at all that he has set new goals for himself to achieve.”
She then continued, “We are proud of him and happy we could play a role in supporting him in his career journey.”
Tim Thomas, one of Hinton’s favourite electrical instructors at Keyano, shared his experience. “In class Jacob was always asking questions and sometimes questioning answers. We had great discussions and a few arguments. Sometimes he was just agreeing to disagree to make sure the understanding was happening for everyone, but it wasn’t all bad. He would assist everyone in class and was very competitive with peers of the same caliber. When he told me about getting his Journeyperson’s ticket and goals to be a lawyer that once again reminded me that he pushes himself to succeed on his own timeline. ”
Working at Syncrude at the tender age of 16 was a revelation. “Talk about entering the real world,” says Hinton. “I was working next to these older fellows, and they didn’t care if you were having a bad day. You were expected to pull your weight. We hustled to keep up.”
It wasn’t just the workplace that influenced Hinton. It was the entire community. “I also consider myself lucky to have moved to Fort McMurray. Everyone here has come to better themselves – to push themselves – everyone has lots of ambition. All those people being here in one place has influenced me.”
But the decision between academic or trades training did not seem to exist in Hinton’s mind. As the paycheques started to come in from working in a trade, another vision started to take shape. Hinton devised a plan to get his ticket quickly, which would give him the freedom to pursue other dreams as well.
“I figured if I saved my money from working as an electrician, and got my ticket quickly, I could fund my own schooling if I wanted to move on to other careers,” he comments. “So I worked hard – challenged some of the years, and at 20 I have my journeyman ticket in electrical. I have time. I’m young. I can do anything I want.”
The next step in his plan is attending Vancouver Island University to study law.
“RAP is a wonderful program that gave me great opportunities,” Hinton says with a lot of enthusiasm. “I gained a maturity level by working in industry that has paid back in how I have approached my schooling. My journeyman status has given me good income as well as 60 unassigned credits, which should cut the first four years of university in half.
“I have money saved up to go to school, and in the summer, when people are taking their summer holidays, I can come back here, work summers for union pay, and if everything works like I think it will, I’ll graduate from university with a law degree and be debt free. RAP has turned out to be a great financial program.” Then as an aside, he adds, “It’s also cool to be going back to where I was born. It’s full circle.”
Some might think this young man is exceptional, but Hinton refutes that thought. “I’m not extraordinary. Anyone can do this. Any trades program can set you up – any trades person, can take this route. There is more than one choice in life and it doesn’t have to be an either-or choice. You can put yourself in a better situation. Trades can support academics and live together. RAP and Keyano helped me get this far.”
When he achieves his ultimate goal, he will have at least two options for his career – law or electrician. That means, unlike some other professionals, he will still be able to change a lightbulb, and the fixture it sits in.
Photo: Elaine Read, Regional Director NE of CAREERS: The Next Generation stands with Jacob Hinton outside Keyano College.