Skilled Trades Exposition for youth coming to Elmvale
Josh Bell, right, who is working on his apprenticeship at Barrie Welding and Machine, chats with operations manager Adam Smith as they look over a damaged bushing, Tuesday. Josh is taking part in the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, which is hosting their second annual Simcoe and Muskoka Skilled Trades Exposition on May 24. Mark Wanzel/Barrie Examiner/Postmedia Network
Youngsters across the county are invited to learn first-hand about how to get into the trades.
The Simcoe County District School Board and its Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) partners are hosting the second annual Simcoe and Muskoka Skilled Trades Exposition on May 24.
There are two parts to the free expo, a day session from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for students in grades 7 and 8 and an evening portion from 5-7 p.m. which is open to the public, according to Sarah Kekewich, OYAP co-ordinator with the school board.
“This event will help students discover the challenging and lucrative careers in skilled trades," she said, adding that during the first session, students will experience various trades by participating in hands-on activities and demonstrations.
“Local employers from the four skilled-trades sectors will facilitate activities and be available later to discuss apprenticeship pathways with students,” Kekewich said.
The expo is a good opportunity for educators to “plant a seed with young people” and get them engaged and interested in the trades, she added.
Thirty-six companies will be showcasing their skills in areas of construction and industry as well as the motive power sector: trades related to engines such as automotive, marine, truck and coach, motorcycle technician, truck and trailer drivers and technicians as well as heavy equipment technicians and operators.
Getting young people thinking about a career in the trades couldn’t happen at a better time, Kekewich said.
”We have an aging population combined with a lack of young people who are pursuing the trades. And that’s creating a real need for skilled talent,” she said.
Adam Smith, Barrie Welding and Machine, agrees with her assessment.
“There is a definitely a skilled-trades shortage,” he said. “I’m involved with a few different committees and I talk to a lot of other manufacturers in Simcoe County. The lion’s share all have positions open today that we can’t find the skilled people to fill.”
The company has employees who have gone through the OYAP, he added.
“There’s so much that goes in manufacturing and the trades that the kids and parents don’t know or understand,” Smith said. “So expos like this - that showcase the trades and the opportunities that are out there for these kids - are very important. It’s almost the only opportunity for kids because otherwise you don’t get into these places to see what a machinist or an electrician or a carpenter does.”
In years past, the trades have almost been painted as an undesirable career path to take in some cases, Smith said.
“But it’s great money, good job security and very fulfilling too because at the end of the day, you’re creating something,” he said. “You can stand back and say to yourself, ‘Look what I did’ as opposed to some other careers where you don’t have any tangible things to show for your work.”
Last year’s Simcoe and Muskoka Skilled Trades Exposition was attended by approximately 1,600 Grade 7 and 8 students.
This year’s event takes place at the Elmvale Arena, located at 14 George St.
Visit www.scdsb.ca to register and to learn more