When Dylan Magdalin left the Canadian military in 2012, he was unsure what his next career move would be. After hearing about Helmets to Hardhats (H2H) and enrolling in the program in 2013, Magdalin is now a proud second-year apprentice steamfitter/pipefitter with UA Local 179 in Regina, Saskatchewan (UA Canada is a skilled trades union of more than 55,000 Canadian plumbers, pipe- and steam-fitters, welders, and HVAC technicians).
Having served three years as an armoured crewman with Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadian) in Edmonton, the young veteran wanted a change of pace. A one-year stint as a corrections officer in Alberta left Magdalin wanting a more fulfilling career. After asking friends in the trades about their experiences, Magdalin visited UA Local 179 to submit an apprenticeship application.
When he arrived at the Local, Magdalin was discouraged by how many apprenticeship applications were submitted ahead of his – until he remembered an ad he saw for H2H. H2H helps Canadians in the Armed Forces, or veterans, get a career in the building and construction trades. The program offers apprenticeship training to help vets reach journeyperson status, and can help fast track the training process by transferring their military skills to a new career in the trades.
After a conversation with the Local dispatcher about H2H, and after only one weekend, Magdalin found himself on his first day at Balzer’s Canada, an industrial construction company just outside of Regina that specializes in piping systems and water treatment plant maintenance.
“My apprenticeship application went from the bottom of the pile to the top after they saw my experience with the military. The Local and H2H knew my skills would help make me a good tradesman,” Magdalin said.
Magdalin still works at the Balzer’s Canada fabrication shop building spools, fitting, threading, tacking, and rigging pipe for a variety of locations, including helping to repair the local Co-Op Refinery Complex poly unit that exploded on Christmas Eve in 2013.
“I like working in the trades. It’s like solving puzzles every day. You work with your hands and always have to think about what you’re doing, so I enjoy that,” he said.
The camaraderie of UA Local 179 is another aspect of the job Magdalin enjoys, so much so he’d recommend the trades to others looking for a career change, “especially to army guys because most of us like to work with our hands and be active. The same brotherhood is there with the trades union that we had in the military.”
“All the journeymen at the job site are really helpful. Even the other apprentices are great – they’ve all been to school and know their stuff.”
The work ethic, punctuality, perseverance and dedication he had refined in the military have helped Magdalin make a new life for himself in the trades with UA Local 179.
*UA Canada is a proud supporter of Helmets to Hardhats.