Summer Learning Program students from the Lakehead Public School Board got a hands-on feel for carpentry during a field trip to the Carpenters Local 1669 shop this week. Each student was accompanied and led by members of the union in the building of a bird house. The activity provided a skilled trades pathway toward carpentry as a viable post-secondary option.

Roger Drcar, Lakehead Public School student success resource teacher, says the summer program is a good way of promoting skilled trades to young students with a hands-on activity. 

“And that’s what we’re doing. We’re giving them a hands-on activity to give them a skilled trades pathway as a viable career choice,” Drcar said. “Alertness at a young age makes things more possible so it becomes part of that conversation when heading into secondary school.”

Drcar added that the initiative also addresses the skilled trade shortage. He says it’s been upwards of 20 years that the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program has been involved with the school board and five years for the board’s Summer Learning Program. 

“There’s always been a push for skilled trades and much more because of the retirements that are coming up, but there’s also the need for housing construction. We need people to build houses and we don’t have enough skilled trades people to do that. Construction and manufacturing are lacking,” he said.

Students, ranging from Grade 5 to Grade 7 from Claude E. Garton, St. James, Kingsway and McKellar Park public schools who attended one of the two-day workshops at the union shop were mentored by two women, one a machinist and the other, graduate student Genia Capar who is heading to Fanshawe College to study heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC) mechanics.

“For me, (skilled trades) have been part of my entire life. It’s a huge thing for women to go into,” Capar said. “It’s a very important (skillset) that is needed for almost anything. Everyone needs the trades in some sort of way and it’s never going to go away. “

Capar was influenced as a really young child to be part of the trades and says the sooner you become involved in the trades, the more comfortable you feel with it. 

“And the easier it is for you to accept that, yeah, I actually want to go into something like this,” she said. “I like to influence young women going into trades because it empowers us just a little bit more. If we show young girls that they’re able to go into the trades and it’s a lot more accepted, a lot more women may want to get into it, not just the guys.”

Capar mentored Sara Yeseen, a Grade 5 student from St. James School who drilled holes, glued and cautiously banged nails into her birdhouse fearing she might miss the nail and hit her thumb.

“This is pretty fun. I guess you really have to learn this so you can actually end up choosing the right career for you when you grow up,” Yaseen said. “You can actually choose something that you like because you’re not going to enjoy it if you don’t actually like your career.”

Matthew Kaun, a Lakehead University technological education program student was one of the many volunteers helping the young students with their bird houses. 

“Being out here to help the students and introduce them to this is very important because there’s a huge shortage of the trades in Ontario and in Canada,” Kaun said. “It’s good to get the young kids involved with the trades so they learn and maybe they become interested in a future with the trades.”

By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 19, 2023 at 10:00

This item reprinted with permission from   The Chronicle-Journal   Thunder Bay, Ontario
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