How the Trades Saved

a Young Man's Life 

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Finding his passion for the skilled trades helped Jordan Ryan leave his troubled past behind him and improved his mental health.

At 13, Jordan Ryan’s life began falling apart. His mother had been laid off from her job in Vancouver and couldn’t afford to make ends meet while supporting Jordan and his sister. Seeing her stressing about being able to pay rent and bills as a single mother prompted his move to Kelowna to live with his father. But his father was also suffering, from debilitating cancer and a severe drug addiction. Jordan was overwhelmed.

“Every night when I went to sleep, I lay down in silence and thought about my day and my life,” said Jordan. “I couldn’t deal with the truths in my life, like knowing my father may not live much longer and that he didn't seem to care, so I started smoking weed every night before bed to stop thinking about it.”

Using marijuana once at night turned into using it every day, and he became addicted. He developed other unhealthy habits and became obese. 

“It was a physical manifestation of my poor mental health. Every time I saw my reflection, I was reminded of the hole I had dug myself into,” recalled Jordan. “I became friends with two older guys involved in organized crime who have since passed away from suicide and drug overdose. I believe that’s where my life was heading.”

When he was 16, Jordan considered dropping out of school. But then he learned about the SkilledTradesBC Youth Train in Trades dual credit program at his school. Dual credit programs allow students to get a head start on a career while earning both high school and post-secondary credits.

Jordan was interested in the carpentry and welding programs, so he registered for the course. “That program kept me going to school every day. It gave me the confidence to enter the workforce with valuable training at the age of 18.”

Finding his passion for the skilled trades enabled Jordan to leave his troubled past behind him and improved his mental health. 

“Encouraged by those around me, I carried on with welding to obtain my Red Seal journeyman status at age 21,” said Jordan. “The certification not only afforded me many job opportunities, but it also allowed me to focus on myself physically, mentally, and financially. I found ways through recreational powerlifting, natural bodybuilding, and personal training to become mentally stronger. I enjoy my life, spending time with my supportive girlfriend, and the hobbies I’ve found in bettering my overall mental health and fitness.”

Jordan tells youth they need to work hard to stay on a positive journey. “Work hard for the things you want, and never stop learning about the things you care about.”

Get Mental Health Support

If you need mental health support, Here2Talk is a free and confidential program available to all post-secondary students in B.C. 

Get access to experienced counsellors via phone or online chat. Learn more on their website at