When 17-year-old Tyler Davis walked the Vancouver Island University (VIU) stage to receive his Heavy Duty and Commercial Transport Mechanics certificate two weeks ago, he was not only reaching a goal, but also continuing a multi-generational tradition in the trades.
It all began with his great grandfather, Beatty Davis, who served on the Malaspina College board from 1968-74 — serving as board chair from 1972-74 — and was one of the original stewards of the trades program.
Howie Davis, Tyler’s grandfather, graduated from the institution’s first welding class in 1957 when it was known as Nanaimo Vocational School.
Tyler’s father Randy would graduate 30 years later from the Heavy Duty and Commercial Transport Mechanics program.
Howie said the program was a natural fit for his grandson.
“He’s worked around our place because we have a trucking company, and he’s worked on trucks since he was about 10 years old and he felt that he should carry on with it,” he said.
Tyler said he didn’t really think about the family connection until after he had graduated.
“It was just something I always wanted to do, and this [program] was a head start at it,” he said.
Tyler took the entry-level training through the Career Technical Centre — a program operated through a partnership between VIU and School District 68 that allows students to begin working toward an apprenticeship while completing Grade 12. Tyler worked hard on weekends and evenings to complete his final year at Ladysmith Secondary School.
“It was really good; I had a really good time,” he said.
In the 10-month Heavy Duty Mechanics program, Tyler and his classmates got to work on semi-trucks and excavators.
Now working for a logging company in Duncan as an apprentice mechanic, Tyler must complete 6,000 hours to obtain his Red Seal certification.
“It normally takes four years, but I want to do it by the time I’m 20,” he said.
Howie said he would like to see the university drop its Grade 12 requirement for its trades program.
“I was a Grade 9 dropout, and I went through it and it’s done nothing but good for me,” he said. “This country needs tradesmen of that sort very badly.”