Aidan Rankie – #BuildingIndustryTalent Feature
Aidan Rankie is a BOLT Financial Award recipient and one of our #BuildingIndustryTalent features. Aidan graduated as an HVAC Technician from Humber College and has been working with Local 285 Sheet Metal Workers and CoolTech since May 2018.
Aidan’s story is one of perseverance and strength in the face of adversity. He is so passionate about his apprenticeship in the skilled trades and is an inspiration to others looking to start a rewarding career in construction.
Aidan told us that, “I was very lucky and fortunate to receive the BOLT Financial Award and attend a Humber College awards ceremony. When I was a boy I had Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. During the treatment and possible other factors I had developed learning disabilities and some fine motor skills deficiencies so I found school very hard to succeed in. I would always have to work twice if not three times harder than the rest of my peers to understand or complete a project or study for a test. I took reduced course loads, summer school, went to 3rd party learning centers for more practice and often my parents would spend many hours working with me. School was always hard for me and very rarely fun for me. I would always feel that I am trying to catch up to my peers, but I never gave up. My dream was to be successful in a career that I liked and to afford to live on my own without assistance from my family, to not feel like a burden but valuable to society.
I had two part-time jobs while I was at college and I was able to hold on for a while but it started to become too much to handle mentally and physically. I felt exhausted all the time and the final straw was when colleges went on strike. Once I returned to school with more than 5 times the amount of homework and eager to finish my last year, I knew something in my schedule had to give so I quit both jobs to focus on school. I lost a lot of motivation to keep going because at that time I felt the deck was very much stacked against me and I felt set up to fail.
BOLT stepped in, out of nowhere it seemed for me. I worked very hard in school and I finished my program with a 92 average, (not bad for someone like me) and I guess that grabbed someone’s attention in an office somewhere and nominated me, which changed my life.
I won two scholarships through BOLT which paid for school and what I couldn’t make working at my jobs. But most importantly of all, BOLT helped connect me to the best job I have ever had, which I still work at today with CoolTech and Local 285 Sheet Metal Workers. I install and build ductwork systems for high rise condos and also help install HVAC equipment. I am currently a 4th year apprentice and I can’t wait to be a journeyman and pass on my knowledge to someone else.
HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, Air, Conditioning and it refers to the industry, not a trade, because there are several trades that work directly and solely under this acronym just in different ways. For example, gas fitters, A.C mechanics, B.A.S programmers (Building Automation Systems) and, of course, my trade Sheet Metal Mechanics.
I am very blessed to say that after working so hard I have been able to buy my first house at the age of 24 and I have been able to keep myself financially stable even during COVID because this job and union has kept me working even during the hardest of times. With a nice pension in sight and benefits, I haven’t worried about my future in a long time, like I used to growing up. Back then, understanding the fact that I had limitations in the classroom because of my disabilities that I couldn’t completely overcome I used to worry and believe that I would struggle for the rest of my life and possibly never make it to where I wanted to be when I grow up or succeed like everyone else would. But I did always try my best and gave it my all and with some help along the way I did achieve my dream and I can say happily that I did so thanks to the BOLT foundation.
I have been allowed to fast track some of my mandatory schooling required to complete my apprenticeship and received credit for my co-op hours at school. I was able to finish in the top 5 of my classes and averaged again around 89-92%. I found that the union teachers are very accommodating of people with learning disabilities and will always go that extra mile to help me understand the material to the fullest extent of my ability. The teachers would always be happy to stay late after school hours to help answer my questions or explain material again in more detail. I’m looking forward to writing my CFQ within the next 18 months!