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Ontario skills camps expose youth to trades

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by Kelly Lapointe last update:Oct 1, 2014

The Skills Work! Camp, put on through Skills Canada-Ontario, exposes kids entering Grade 7 and 8 to the trades through hands-on activities at camps in 19 communities throughout the province. At a recent camp at Centennial College in Toronto, students got to try welding, autobody work, drywalling, and truck heavy duty work.
Grade 7 and 8 students learned how to drywall thanks to skilled employees from Lowes during a workshop at a recent Skills Canada-Ontario Skills Work! summer camp in Toronto held at Centennial College.
Grade 7 and 8 students learned how to drywall thanks to skilled employees from Lowes during a workshop at a recent Skills Canada-Ontario Skills Work! summer camp in Toronto held at Centennial College. - Photo: Kelly Lapointe

“I think it’s so cool,” said 13-year-old camper Jon Goudswaard. “We get to do all the things that you don’t normally get to do in school or out with your friends.”

The Skills Work! Camp, put on through Skills Canada-Ontario, exposes kids entering Grade 7 and 8 to the skilled trades through hands-on activities at camps in 19 communities throughout the province. It incorporates half-day workshops hosted by local skilled trades professionals as well as behind the scenes industry tours.

Campers participate in a variety of activities such as changing tires, laying bricks, learning the basics of electrical wiring, assembling mosaic ceramic tiles, and fabricating wooden items. At a recent camp held at Centennial College in Toronto, campers got to try welding, autobody work, drywalling, and truck heavy duty work as well as tour an aviation hangar.

“I didn’t even know that these jobs existed and what their uses are for and why would you really need these jobs,” said 12-year-old Marina Loizedes, after learning how to drywall.

“I wish this camp went on until 11th grade because it only goes two years.”

Camp counsellor Sara Radko said the hands-on activities are a great opportunity for the kids to really get involved.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to get engaged and it’s a lot of hands-on activity, which a lot of the kids enjoy,” she said. “It teaches them that in the future they’ll be able to find a great occupation and it’s rewarding.”

More than 50 per cent of the Canadian skilled labour force is expected to retire by 2018, says Skills Canada-Ontario.

The Construction Sector Council predicts the need for 319,000 new construction workers between 2012 and 2020.

The camp hopes to expose students before they enter high school and to get them thinking about the future.

“It sets you up for high school. It can focus you for what you want to be. It gives you a chance feel like an adult for a little, it makes you feel older, like you have your own job,” said Goudswaard.

Trevor Poolin, 13, wants to work on cars when he’s older.

“I think it’s pretty great how they’re letting kids try these things that a lot of people wouldn’t be able to do. It’s a lot of fun.”

Skills Canada-Ontario has offered the Skills Work! summer day camps since 2001. Run in partnership with community colleges throughout Ontario, the program is sponsored by Hydro One and the provincial government.

Skills Canada-Ontario hosts various opportunities for youth to learn about the skilled trades throughout the year, such as networking dinners, school presentations, young women’s conferences and the Ontario Technological Skilled Trades Competition.

last update:Oct 1, 2014

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