IN THE CANADIAN FORCES
I’m Corporal Paul Merner from Mount Pearl, Newfoundland – I’m a Construction Technician posted at CFB Bagotville.
And I’m Corporal David Campbell from London, Ontario -- I’m a Construction Technician at 8 Wing, Trenton.
Construction Technicians work with all three elements of the Forces – building and maintaining barracks, hangars, storage facilities, offices, and temporary shelters.
MERNER: From starting off a building from zero, to finishing off the roof, to finishing off the interior inside – If there’s block, if there’s tile work…
CAMPBELL: Drafting, surveying, framing, drywall, painting…
MERNER: It’s just amazing. I can’t even put a word on it.
On base, we’re involved in drafting the plans and building and maintaining all the permanent physical structures, whether it’s a new barracks or a new vehicle garage or a rec hall – you’re part of a team of really skilled and versatile people.
CAMPBELL: On deployment, you’re often going into an area where the infrastructure just isn’t up to our standards, or isn’t there at all. The Construction Techs go in first and we provide our troops and our commanders with a place to live and work.
If there’s a shower unit to be built for the infantry in Afghanistan then we’re the guys, we’re the ones that do the work. It’s always very rewarding to see the smiles on their faces.
MERNER: In civilian world you have people that do just roofing, you have people that do just framing, you have people that just do block work. We do it all. So it’s a huge advantage over the civilian workforce. The best thing is that each day is never the same. In the morning you can be working on a door outside, and in the afternoon you could be putting in a drop ceiling. There’s always something new to get over, so there’s always scratching your head and moving on and getting the job done.
I was down in Jamaica, which was absolutely amazing. We basically built things for the Jamaican army over there. It was quite the experience.
MERNER: After basic military training, Construction Technicians spend eight months at the School of Military Engineering in Gagetown, New Brunswick.
They have the top people in Canada there to instruct us how to do various things from framework up to roofing to concrete to block laying. It’s very, very impressive. I think our training there is well above and beyond the standard of the civilian workforce.
When you graduate from Gagetown, you’ll be assigned to an Army or Navy Construction Troop, or a Construction Engineering Flight for the next two years of your on-the-job experience and training.
CAMPBELL: Going to a unit after Gagetown provides you with the opportunity to learn even further.
MERNER: I got sent to a construction engineer unit in Kingston and basically, it was taking care of the base, it was base maintenance. When I first got there people had open arms, they accepted me right away. They started out from very, very basic and as the weeks progressed, they’d start giving us bigger jobs and we’d always work with someone that’s a qualified journeyman.
At the end of your 2-year apprenticeship, you'll head back to Gagetown to complete your journeyman training. That course lasts 21/2 months and when you're done, you'll return to your unit as a fully qualified technician, able to work without supervision and ready to be deployed.
When you get on a job site, you evaluate, look around and see what your obstacles are going to be. You can’t always go run to your supervisor and say, “Hey what will I do about this”, You have to actually make a decision yourself and you just get the job done. The importance is having a finished product in a timely manner.
CAMPBELL: Before I joined, I had considered being a civilian carpenter but the experiences in the Canadian Forces really lured me in. It allowed me the experience to deploy overseas, to learn a trade. It’s taken my life from boring to exciting.
MERNER: I’m 15 years in my career right now, I’m happy, I love going to work in the morning and I look forward to every single day of my life.
IN THE CANADIAN FORCES