Eighty-four students from Journey Middle School dropped by EMCS on Friday to get a look at career opportunities outside professions that many may be considering.
“There’s a significant gap between the labour supply in the trades and the labourers that are available for those trades,” Matt Harmeson, Edward Milne Community School metalwork teacher, said.
Harmeson was busy showing off his shop and touting his program to groups of eager Grade 8 students and said he hopes the experience may convince some to give further consideration to a career in the trades.
“We’ve seen a lot more students asking about the trades in recent years, and we’ve developed a new program at EMCS to provide trade sampling on a semester long basis at Camosun College,” he said.
The program allows students to sample four separate trades over a semester, giving them a chance to get hands on with those trades and get a sense of whether a career in any of those trades is something they want to pursue.
Dante Di Ponio, the coordinator of trades programs for the Sooke School District, said the idea of exposing students to the trades is to shrink the gap between the skilled labourers available to the trades and the demand for those workers.
“The Industry Training Authority provides grants so that we can provide this sort of program to our students,” Di Ponio said.
“They have a youth arm of their organization and are working very hard to attract young people into the trades. The situation is quite serious for them.”
Lisa Ayton, Youth Lead for the Industrial Training Authority, is happy that the program is in place, but said that even more needs to be done.
“We’re expecting 70,000 trade jobs to open up in the next ten years. These are good jobs that provide good wages and a really good lifestyle, but most young people have a lot of exposure to academic opportunities but very little in the trades,” Ayton said.
“We’re hoping that these sorts of initiatives can help turn that around.”
Not all the students at the session, however, were sold on abandoning the traditional academic careers and embarking on a future in the trades.
Jemma des Jardins said she wants to go into the arts and her friend, Sabrina Stewart has her heart set on becoming a neurosurgeon. Another friend, Kirsten Kristiansen, is intent on pursuing post secondary education in the sciences.
“It’s fun to do this, but I can’t see myself not going to university,” des Jardins said.
For some students, though, the day’s activities may have opened the door to the trades a crack.
William Scott, another student, found the electronics and robotics demonstration to be intriguing and said he would consider a trade in that field.
“Education has changed a huge amount and the options are wide open. We have students from all different backgrounds going to traditional academic programs in universities and others going into the trades, and they are all wonderful career opportunities,” Laura Fulton, EMCS principal.