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Attendee tries out welding at the Trades Awareness conference.February 18, 2011

About 50 high school counsellors and career advisors attended a one-day Trades Awareness conference organized through the South Island Partnership and held February 16 at Camosun’s Interurban campus. The goal of the conference was to help counsellors understand the rigors and benefits of trades programs, so they can identify and encourage students who have the potential to be successful and happy in a trades career.

The day began with a panel discussion that included two members from industry and three Camosun trades students. All five panel members talked about the value of trades careers.

Lee Rome, regional manager for the Skilled Trades Employment program explained that 7,000 trades jobs would be opening up on Vancouver Island in 2015 largely due to upcoming retirements. Patrick Jones, an automotive mechanic with Wheaton Chev Olds got the counsellors' attention when he said an auto mechanic can earn between $50,000 and $120,000 per year.

The counsellors all listened intently as the students talked about their experiences at college and the work force. Kymberly Adams discovered a passion for hands-on work in high school and then signed up for Camosun's Welding program. After honing her skills in production and fabrication jobs, Kymberly is now back at Camosun to upgrade to her Welding B ticket and even more career opportunities. Daniel Nelson is a third year electrical apprentice and Daniel Coppen is a fourth year carpentry apprentice. Both young men said they still really enjoy the work, and were proud of the fact they have no student debt and earn better salaries than most of their friends who chose to go to university after high school.

Enough talk, now get to work!

After a quick tour of the trades shops, each counsellor then attended three hands-on workshops: they built dog houses in Carpentry, artistically transformed vegetables into flower garnishes in Professional Cook Training, gained an understanding of careers in Electrical and made sparks fly to create metal vases in Welding. Everyone spent some time in the computer lab to explore Essential Skills, a great online tool offered on the ITA website.

At the end the of the day several  lucky people took home door prizes, including gift certificates for the ClassRoom Restaurant and Camosun’s Insight Speaker Series, jackets and other great prizes!

When it was all over, several counsellors commented on how much they enjoyed the day and how much they learned. They now feel better prepared to help students decide whether a trades career is the right choice.

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Last updated: February 17, 2011 3:26 pm

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