Hi, my name is Simon Ernst and I am one of the Machinists on the Score (Eastern) Canada team in St. John’s Newfoundland. When I started my post-secondary education, I first enrolled at the Memorial University in St. John’s for engineering. Shortly after starting the program I realized that academia didn’t really interest me and I started to search for a skilled trade. I first applied to a welding program as at the time it was the trade that interested me the most, however, the class was full and I would have to wait a year to get into the program, so on a whim in 2015 I applied to the Machinist program at the College of the North Atlantic in St. John’s. As I progressed through the first year of the Machinist program I realized that I really enjoyed the trade and happened to be fairly good at it too, so I decided to stick with it.
Every year the College hosts a competition ran by the organization Skills Canada where students have the opportunity to compete against others in the apprenticeship program for a chance to be the best in the province, and a chance to go to the national competition and compete to be the best in the nation. At the end of my first year of training I decided to compete in the 2016 Skills Canada competition to see how I faired against others in the province. To my surprise I placed 1st in the provincial competition and proceeded to go to the national competition later that year where I placed 5th overall.
In Canada, the Machinist apprenticeship program is a 4 year long self-motivated and self-funded program ran through the local College. It is comprised of a first year of 9 months with both practical and theory content where we learn the basics of Machining. Successful completion of the first year allows students to become a Machinists apprentice and work alongside a Journeyman at a place of hire to gain skills and experience in their trade. After gaining enough working hours the Apprentice applies to go back to the college to do a 2 month long training session called a block. This is repeated 3 times until the apprentice has a total of 4 blocks (first 9 months included) and 7200 hours of working experience. At this time the Apprentice applies to write the journeyman Exam where successful completion with a mark of 70% or higher earns them a Journeyman red seal in Precision Machining.
After my first year of training I applied to do my apprenticeship hours at Score as I had a high interest in the oil industry and that is where my career as a Machinist started. Score Provided a fast paced environment with an emphasis on safety, where the quality and accuracy of parts is paramount. This provided the perfect environment to learn the skills required to be a good Machinist. In 2017, after having a full year of work experience at Score and 2 blocks completed, I decided to compete at the Provincial Skills competition again to see how I had improved. I ended up placing 1st, and later that year went to nationals to compete for the second time. The competition was comprised of two parts, one part to be made on a lathe, and one on a conventional milling machine. The competition spanned over 2 days, one project on each day with an allotted time of 3.5 hours to complete each. With the skills and experience gained over my first year of working at Score I was able to place 1st at that National competition with a mark of 88%, being the best Apprentice Machinist in Canada for that year with also receiving a medal for Best in Province (highest mark out of all NL competitors).
I still work with Score at the St. John’s location, now as a Journeyman Machinist, completing my Journeyman red seal exam in January of 2019. To this day Score continues to provide a challenging and engaging work environment with the jobs we see come through the shop and the opportunity to work offshore. I hope to stay with Score to years to come, and I am excited to see what challenges and opportunities arise in the future.