Dufferin Board of Trade hosts Skilled Trades Event to help bolster the industry

September 22, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

The Dufferin Board of Trade and partners hosted Dream Dufferin – a skilled trades event to introduce students and the public to opportunities in many different trades and service jobs available in the region and beyond.

The event was held on Wednesday, Sept. 14, in partnership with the Town of Orangeville, Upper Grand District School Board, Georgian College, the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin, and the Career Education Council.

Hundreds of high school students from Orangeville District High School, Westside Secondary School, and Centre Dufferin High School in Shelburne attended the event to learn about possible job opportunities, apprenticeships, and careers when they graduate high school.

Two sessions were held – one in the afternoon followed by an evening session – with guest speakers.

After years of schools pushing university as the major option after graduating high school, there is now a shortage of skilled people in the trades and many employers are looking to hire new people to fill the void.

It was realized that going to university may not be the answer for many people who complete a four-year degree and can’t find a job. The trades offer high paying jobs, and on-the-job training.

“Dream Dufferin has been a dream of our committee since 2019 and was originally planned for May of 2020,” explained committee co-chair, Orangeville Mayor Sandy Brown. “After a lengthy pandemic delay, we are very excited to be able to host this great event now. We hope you will find it inspiring, and that it may dispels some myths about working in skilled trades.”

The event was attended by a wide variety of businesses and services including construction, police, military, landscaping, plumbing, and related trade-oriented employers.

Gerald Knol, of Whispering Pines Landscaping, brought some heavy equipment as well as some examples of what he does working with stonework.

“We have three divisions,” Gerald explained. “We do construction, and we have a maintenance division – so grass cutting and trimming – and gardening. We’re here trying to get kids interested in the industry and show them what it’s all about. My son who’s here today, just finished a five-year apprenticeship with us, so he’s here today.”

Gerald’s demonstration of a heavy stone vacuum system garnered a lot of interest from students who gathered to watch him lift a 500 lb stone.

The Canadian Military presented opportunities for a career in the Armed Forces.

“It’s not like what you see in the movies,” explained Petty Officer 2nd Class Currie, who now works out of the recruitment centre in Barrie, but has travelled the world on the Navy Frigate HMCS Ottawa as part of her duties as a member of the Canadian Navy.

“We have a Canadian Forces recruiting centre in Barrie,” she explained. “We’re here talking to people about a career in the forces. We typically ask students what grade are you in, what do you want to do after high school, what kind of job are you hoping to do, what kind of education are you getting? We get some answers and that gives us some information about that person’s future career.”

Serving in the Armed Forces provides many opportunities to learn skills as well as have your education paid for.

“If you want to have your university education paid for, we have information about what to expect, what are the requirements, and where can you go to school,” Petty Officer Currie explained. “We have skilled trades – hands on – we can tell you what the training is like and what you can expect.”

Both students and members of the public who visited the event had the opportunity to learn about different trades as well as meet some local employer who need people to join their team.

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