Meet the Heat and Frost Insulators

Michael MacIlreith, Apprentice(Nova Scotia)

Michael MacIlreith's career in the skilled trades began at the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), in Dartmouth. After graduating from high school, he spent three years working as a meat cutter at a local grocery store in Halifax. He was not satisfied with the pay or with his career prospects, so he enrolled in a carpentry program at NSCC. He spent a year working as a carpenter before his father-in-law, heat and frost insulator foreman Phillip Amero, introduced him to the heat and frost insulation trade.

"(Phillip) got into the trade through his father-in-law, too," Michael explains. "It's kind of a tradition (in our family) to get your sons-in-law in." Michael preferred heat and frost insulation to carpentry—although the job demanded a strong work ethic, he says, it was not as labour-intensive as carpentry. He has since stuck with heat and frost insulation, and at 25 years of age, Michael is now a second-year apprentice.

One of the aspects of the trade that appealed most to Michael was that it provided the opportunity to start working immediately. "I learned quite a bit the first day," he says. "I jumped right into something that was harder than I thought it was going to be … but it was fun!" He was excited about the prospect of being paid full-time wages while learning on the job—which also meant not having to pay tuition.

In addition to the high wages and the great learning opportunities, Michael appreciates the fact that his job is varied and that it allows him to work on dozens of different types of construction projects, such as schools and shipyards. He recommends the trade to anyone "who is willing to learn and can pick up on things fairly easily."

After completing his apprenticeship in two years and becoming a certified journeyperson, Michael hopes to, one day, become a foreman like his father-in-law. For now, though, his introduction to the skilled trades has come full circle. He is currently working on the new School of Trades and Technology building at NSCC's Dartmouth campus, helping to build a school for future generations of skilled tradespeople.