Training on the job supports a shift into a new industry

Mark Ackland worked hard as a rakerman—shaving asphalt for over 12 years—until a life-altering accident on the job.

During a night shift, Mark tripped on a barricade in the dark, and when he landed on the roadside, the impact dislocated his shoulder and fractured his shoulder joint. Within a month, he was in surgery, followed by several months of physiotherapy.

“It’ll never be one hundred percent of what it was prior, so I’m dealing with things as best as I can,” says Mark.

Getting back to work also proved to be a challenge. Unable to secure a position that would accommodate his changed physical abilities, Mark struggled with a combination of job search anxiety and poor sleep due to pain.

photo of Mark smiling

“It was a physical injury, but there has been a psychological aspect to not working and having an injury at my age.”

– Mark Ackland

Mark worked with his case manager to earn a qualified cannabis worker certificate so he could be hired to work at a cannabis shop. Because cannabis retailers were designated as an essential service during the pandemic, Mark saw an opportunity for steady employment. But getting a foot in the door with no retail experience proved to be a challenge, often pushing Mark to his wit’s end.

That’s when re-employment team lead Carrie, from CBI Health, stepped in to assist Mark with his job search. She helped him tailor his resume and cover letter, conducted mock interviews to get him comfortable with the interview process and provided encouragement every step of the way, especially when the job search felt insurmountable

“Sometimes the impact of an injury is pretty significant for people to move forward,” says Carrie. “Mark is really focused and motivated to grow, so this is just a starting point for him to move forward and have great success in his life.”

Carrie also collaborated with another re-employment specialist to educate Mark’s potential employers about training on the job.

Training on the job is an innovative program that provides financial support to employers who help injured workers develop skills and gain work experience in a new role when they’re unable to return to their regular job and employer.

Training on the job gave him an advantage, but Mark’s stellar interview performance, enthusiasm and career focus secured him an opportunity with Co-op Cannabis.

Since the end of October, Mark works part time as a “budtender” as part of a six-month training-on-the-job program. Working in retail has been a brand-new experience for Mark, and he’s enthusiastic about learning everything he can—from the point-of-sale system to helping customers and learning about new products.

His store manager, Ashleigh McAllister, acknowledges that the job is very different than what he was used to. “It took time to adapt to the new environment and skills required for the job, but Mark continues to progress,” she says. “He’s a hard worker and tries to do the best he can to his own abilities. It’s been a pleasure working with Mark and getting to know him.”

Mark’s also thankful to be part of a kind and considerate team environment.

“Co-op Cannabis has been nothing but supportive of me in returning to work,” says Mark. “They understand my injury and my limitations. They’ve set up everything I’ve needed to be successful. It’s been a great place to work, and training on the job definitely got me to where I am now—there’s no two ways about it.”

Find other stories like Mark's and learn how you can use the TOJ program to support a worker and be part of someone else’s success story.