Jaime Sullivan

  • Age: 21 /
  • Born: The Goulds
  • OCCUPATION: Third year apprentice plumber, Tri Star Mechanical Ltd /
  • Hours: 40-43 PER Week /
  • Salary: $26.40 per hour

Sullivan says most of his friends are still in school. “I pity them so much because I hated school, hated it. Couldn’t stand it,” he says. “Now some of them, they could be best kind, they love it, they love the school life. Don’t have to get up until eight or whatever and done at two o’clock in the day, and living off Mom still, but I’d rather live off myself.”

Landed the job

Studied plumbing in Bonavista. Then sent resumes to a bunch of companies. Got a call from Tri Star, and started working.


Cleaning, sodding pipes. Builds drainage systems, runs water lines and vents.

Monthly expenses

Cell phone bill, $300 a month in rent to his parents for room and board.

Enjoys earnings

Ski doo, motorcycle, ATV, beer. “It’s nice to be able to buy a few beer at the end of the day,” he says.

Best part

“I love the work, work with my hands, problem solving. Kept busy.”

Most challenging

“You get in tight situations,” he says. For example, “You got to run pipe a certain way and think about other people on the job site. A lot of thinking involved.”

Future plans

“Still in the trade, making money, preferably a supervisor. Maybe running my own business,” says Sullivan. “God only knows.”


Dave Lundrigan, manager - Tristar Mechanical in Mount Pearl looks after a staff of 100 trades people. Everything from plumbers, pipefitters, welders, sheet metal, insulators, and labourers. He is also responsible for hiring.

He says some apprentices are interested in learning the trades and have a good work ethic, but others do not, and does not see a difference across gender lines.

“They seem to be more focused on when they will get to the next pay hike as opposed to learning the necessary skills required to advance them through the trades. There are exceptions to this. Also we have some that are very focused and work hard to learn and advance.”

Changes in the trades over the years

Tristar Mechanical has been in business for 28 years. Lundrigan says he has seen both positive and negative changes over the years.

“The biggest changes that I have experienced in the build trades over the years would be, higher standards for the job site facilities for the workers, improved tools and equipment through technological advances, training, higher standards for safety, which are all great to see.”

“On the down side, I would have to say that the work ethic of the younger people entering the workforce is not what it is used to be. Back in the day, you would work harder to keep your job if you were lucky enough to get one. You definitely wanted to work hard and learn as much as you could as quickly as possible - be the best that you could possibly be - so that you would not be laid off when the work slowed down.”

He says not all young people entering the workforce are motivated, and notices some unprofessional behaviour that demonstrates they are not ready for the workforce.

“Some of the most irritating bad behaviour issues today are: improper use of cell phones including texting. Most jobsites have banned their use to break times and lunch times. They are not only a problem with decreased productivity, but also a safety issue due to lack of focus on the job site. We have had issues with some of the apprentices not showing up to work on time, failing to call in to notify the employer or their designated representatives i.e. site superintendents."

He says his advice is to show up to work on time and stay focused on learning the trades from experienced journeypersons, as there will be many older workers retiring in the trades, opening up significant opportunities for skilled young people.