June 17, 2022 – Eleven weeks, 11 schools, and nearly 2,000 students later, the hands-on skilled trades tour has come to a close with a final stop at Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School (CCVS).
The real-world and eye-opening learning experience for Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) students has sparked an interest in the skilled trades as very real future career choices.
From workshops in carpentry, electrical, welding, fitness, nutrition, and culinary, students learned about these trades first-hand with experienced St. Lawrence College instructors. These hands-on and real-world activities are part of the UCDSB Specialist High Skills Major Program and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program initiative to bring the St. Lawrence College Mobile Skills Training Labs to 11 secondary schools across our district, one week at a time, from April 4 until June 17.
“I have learned so much from these workshops,” says Stephanie Johnston, a Grade 11 student at CCVS who was one of approximately 144 students participating this week.
Johnston took part in the nutrition, fitness, and culinary workshops. She is seeking a career as a paramedic and she says these workshops gave her the chance to learn more about the importance of eating healthy, being fit, and fueling the mind, body, and soul.
“In the nutrition class, part of what we learned about was what is healthy and good for the body and what we should avoid or consume in moderation. I also learned about calories and the energy it provides to the body. In the culinary workshop, we learned how to properly dice using a knife, how to make tacos, salsa, and guacamole coleslaw from scratch. For the fitness workshop, we learned how to do exercises the correct way and discovering whatexercises suit your body best is key. I think these mobile training labs are a really good idea and beneficial for students to be able to explore career opportunities while still in high school.”
All of the workshops were two-and-a-half-hour sessions and hosted by an instructor or trainer from St. Lawrence College. Students remained focused on the learning at hand throughout the sessions and were able to retain what they had learned, despite it being longer than a typical class. At the end of the session, students earned a micro-credential certificate from St. Lawrence College.
“It’s been a great two and a half months,” says Ashley Grant, UCDSB Student Success Learning Partner, and co-lead on this initiative. “The enthusiasm to learn about a possible career in one or more of these skilled trades has been palpable. We have heard from numerous students over the course of this journey that this experience has sparked an interest in a career in welding, carpentry, nutrition, electrical, culinary, and fitness. Students have also shown a tremendous interest in learning about the UCDSB’s SHSM, OYAP, and Dual Credit programming that can support their career aspirations.”
Grant adds that this program has been an important piece of providing equal andequitable opportunities for students, including under-represented groups in skilled trades careers.
UCDSB Executive Superintendent of Student Achievement and Innovation Eric Hardie says the St. Lawrence College mobile skilled trades labs were a giant success for the school board and its students.
“We are very pleased with the feedback that has come from students at each of our visits. Providing students within the UCDSB with equitable, hands-on, and low-risk opportunities in the trades is essential to preparing them for success outside of secondary school. Our staff have really done a tremendous job in fostering a positive learning environment where students want to attend, try new things, and discover a passion that they didn’t know they had. These skilled trades labs are just one example of many that are to come to our district.We are excited to continue to bring fresh and innovative learning experiences to UCDSB students.”
Grade 11 student Chase Rivette took part in the welding workshop. He says he had a lot of fun with both the real and virtual components and because of this opportunity, he is leaning towards a career in welding.
“It was my first-time doing stick welding, which was a really cool experience,” he explains, adding that he had some experience doing Metal Inert Gas or MIG welding prior to this workshop. “This was a very good learning experience for me and others. A lot of us had never really had the opportunity to do something like this, but because of this opportunity, we learned a new skill and it was very fun.”