On Nov. 2, Grade 6 students from each of the elementary schools in Thompson participated in the fourth-annual Trades and Technology Olympics. The event, which took place at the Thompson Regional Community Centre, is intended to give students a hands-on experience in the fields of trades and technology. Skills Canada Manitoba, in partnership with R.D.Parker Collegiate, Vale and the Northern Manitoba Sector Council, sponsored the event.
The goal of the event was to get students to try out different trades or technology skills in an exciting, hands-on way and to get them thinking about some possible career choices for the future. Michelle Pruder, the northern in-school liaison officer for Skills Canada Manitoba, says, “Approximately 48 per cent of skilled tradespeople were expected to have retired in the past couple of years, meaning there are more and more openings in many trades-related jobs. Students need to know not only what those jobs are but also how important it is to complete their education and gain the skills they need to do those jobs."
Groups of students went from station to station and either completed a task with direction from high school mentors or participated in an interactive display hosted by Vale guests. The activities students participated in included food services, automotive, carpentry, cosmetology, tailoring, mechanics, landscape design, non-destructive testing, industrial mechanics, rock mechanics and engineering. RDPC students acted as mentors at each of the stations, and patiently guided the younger Grade 6 students in how to do each task. Many of the RDPC student mentors are themselves working towards a career in one of the trades by taking related classes while in high school. Some of them are also enrolled in the High School Apprenticeship Program (HSAP). This program allows students to start their apprenticeship while still in high school, and combines regular high school instruction with paid, part-time, on-the-job apprenticeship training.
Three mentors from Vale – Gina Tylerbest (mine design engineer/rock mechanics specialist), Joanne Marchand (industrial mechanic) and Tom Kippenhuck (senior non- destructive evaluation specialist), were also present at the event, and shared stories about their work experiences along with some hands-on demonstrations/activities with the students.
Overall, the Trades & Technology Olympics was a great success with both students and teachers expressing appreciation for the opportunity to participate, and it provided a great start to the many other upcoming events that Skills Canada Manitoba has planned for this year.