Christopher Mckeen: Electrician grad lights up in career in Ontario shipyard

From an early age, Chris McKeen ‘06 took a liking to the electrical industry. He began his pursuit of a career as an electrician as soon as he finished high school. 

“After a year being an electrician, I was signed up as an apprentice. With some research, I found Mohawk to be the best choice to start the educational side of my apprenticeship,” he says. 

Mohawk’s Electrician (Construction and Maintenance) program helps apprenticeship students train in-class for the electrician construction and maintenance trade. Unlike fulltime postsecondary programs, students must be signed up as an apprentice under an approved employer prior to applying.  

Once an apprentice has an employer and is registered with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training & Skills Development, their apprenticeship begins. There is a waiting time of one and a half years before the Ministry sends an offer of in-class training to prospective students. Apprenticeships take approximately five years to complete. 

With state-of-the-art facilities at Mohawk and a manageable course load, Chris got to work. Over the five year-period of his apprenticeship program, he completed the job-site aspect of his apprenticeship with Ontario Shipyards (formerly Heddle Shipyards), one of Mohawk’s Future Ready Premium Employers. He was grateful to have the experience complement his studies. 

“The partnership with Ontario Shipyards and Mohawk was seamless,” he says. “There is a great balance of in-class training and job-site work.” 

Today, Chris still works with Ontario Shipyards as an electrician. He continues to enjoy the impact that he has on projects big and small. 

“Every day is something new. I like the challenges and troubleshooting. It also feels great when you have a big job and you get to see the completed project. When all the lights come on, it's always a good feeling,” he says. 

As a Future Ready Premium Employer, Ontario Shipyards is a key partner in training future ready graduates. They oversee contributions to academic programming and help shape learning outcomes with their industry knowledge. They employ graduates in fulsome careers for electricians, millwrights, labourers and more. Ontario Shipyards also supports apprenticeship students and partners with Mohawk's community-focused City School outreach programs. 

The electrical industry is a vast, growing field always looking for new talent. For anyone interested in joining the ranks as an electrician, Chris has some sage advice. 

“Don't let hard work turn you away, every day can be a challenge but in the end it's worth it,” he says. “They say that there’s lots of math involved in electrical work, but it’s only a small part. There is a wide variety of electrical fields. If you can, it’s good to try them all.” 

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