Andrew Pariser / RESCON
Daniel Allen is one of the true success stories of the residential construction industry, specifically through Tridel’s BOLT program.
Allen had been in the care of the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) in Toronto for his entire childhood when he decided that he wanted to learn more about construction. “People want to see people that are just like them, making it past their struggles to success. In order to have success, you’ve gotta have help sometimes,” he told RESCON. “BOLT kickstarted my career.”
Allen has told his story to aspiring young workers “every year for the last seven years,” he says. “I’m there to tell them they can make $100,000 with their hands if they’re prepared to work hard. But you need to be focused to be a success, whether it’s in construction or something else.”
After finishing high school, the Toronto native was determined to find a career and join the workforce. He learned about the BOLT program (Building Opportunities for Life Today) and quickly realized that he wanted to pursue this line of work.
Allen is in his seventh year of construction, including completing his apprenticeship with more than 4,000 hours in four years.
Now 26, Allen is a Local 183 labourer specializing in reinforcing iron for high rises. He says he wants to continue giving back to the community that raised him, and embraces his role as an inspirational figure for young African-Canadians as well as other youth.
Toronto's Daniel Allen, a labourer with Local 183, credits Tridel's BOLT program with kickstarting his career.
“He’s always willing to give back, tell his story and inspire other kids,” says Joanne Bin, executive director for BOLT.
The program and charitable foundation was launched in 2009 with a focus on educating youth at the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto about construction. It has since expanded to include youth from many other agencies and programs. Since 2010, 248 BOLT scholarships have been awarded, with 32 coming this year at a value of $107,000. The scholarships are awarded to students who are enrolled in a full-time construction related program and have demonstrated financial need. In addition, the BOLT program offers a two-week job shadowing experience at Tridel sites, to offer participants the opportunity to experience the “construction culture.” BOLT’s mandate is to provide two pathways to a career in construction – through a post-secondary education or through apprenticeship.
Most young people who get hooked on construction after BOLT between 18 and 26 years old, enter the Hammer Heads program: it’s a 12-week session incorporating intense health and safety training, academic upgrading, green training and life skills, with more exposure to a variety of trades.
While Allen credits BOLT and Hammer Heads for paving his path to success, he says there are three attributes that anyone pursuing a career in construction (or any other industry) needs to have: “Respect, common sense and patience. If you have those three things, you will have no problem.
'RESPECT IS NO. 1'
“But respect is No. 1. Without respect, you will not get anywhere in life. Success takes 12 months a year – you need the drive to work. Anybody can do any job.”
Leo DelZotto, principal for Tridel, says the condo builder has made a commitment to give youth opportunities in the industry through BOLT.
“We are taking youngsters who would never had an opportunity to find a career in construction and bring them to fulfilling their dreams and have a career and become totally independent and self-sufficient individuals. That is a tremendous accomplishment. It makes me very proud every time I see one of these success stories.”
And we’re proud to tell Daniel Allen’s amazing success story and call Tridel a member of RESCON.
Andrew Pariser is the vice-president of RESCON and chair of the RESCON health and safety committee. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.