Students, others get to TryTrade at Carleton North event

by | Dec 2, 2022

Approximately 600 Northern Carleton middle and high school students got
a glimpse of the many trade opportunities which await their graduation
during the Try-A-Trade Expo held at Carleton North High School on
Thursday, Dec. 1.

Valerie Carmichael, Anglophone School District West community engagement
schools coordinator, said the Skills Canada-sponsored event provided
students from CNHS and its feeder schools a chance to learn about
skilled trades from the trade union, local businesses, NBCC and others.

“I have pretty positive reviews,” Carmichael said Thursday evening as
the expo opened its doors to the general public.

She said both the students and those operating the booths praised the
event.

In addition to many local firms showcasing the many skilled-trade
options now and in the future, NBCC Woodstock and Saint John provided
information about its various programs.

Lexie Mombourquette, Skills Canada program coordinator and Arnell
McDonald, office manager and executive assistant, provided information
and fielded questions from students and the general public.

Mombourquette said the Try-A-Trade event was the first for the Upper
Valley area, noting such shows are more common in larger metropolitan
areas such as Moncton, Saint John or Fredericton.

She said many booths included virtual reality kits to allow students to
try their hands at various trades.

In addition to the known trades of welding, pipefitting, ironworking,
auto service, heating and refrigeration, potential careers are available
in nursing, aquaculture, agriculture, robotics and electronics.

Two booths also promoted diversity in trades, with MAPSW — Mentor
Apprentice Program Strategic Workforce Services — and Trades and Tech
Career Exploration encouraging minorities and women to pursue careers in
non-traditional areas.

“Careers have no gender,” noted the Trades and Technology Career
Exploration brochure.

Program advisor Katherine Molloy explained the organization works with
New Brunswick’s Women’s Equality Branch, colleges and universities,
industry and others to help students find a path to non-traditional
career choices.

At the MAPSW booth, Tara McNeill and Emily Spak provided similar
information, offering options and programs to direct women or Indigenous
people into skilled trades and programs to help companies improve
workplace culture and retention.

McNeill said she knows from personal experience the difficulty for
anyone, especially women, to find a career to pique their interest.

After studying graphic arts at NBCC Woodstock in the mid-90s, she said,
she didn’t find a personally rewarding career until she discovered
automotive service technician.

McNeill said her role and programs with MAPSW aim at helping people find
a job they love in non-traditional trades.

A common denominator at all the company booths was their demand for
skilled tradespeople.

Charlie Guest at BWS Manufacturing of Centreville said students and
adults attending the trade fair enjoyed trying their welding expertise
on the computerized program.

He said the company is always searching for quality welders, noting they
have run in-house welding classes as part of their recruiting efforts.

McCain Foods, one of the most familiar names among Carleton County
employers, needs skilled tradespeople in various disciplines, explained
HR specialist Katherine Garcia. She said the company would help
tradespeople advance, including acquiring the Red Seal certification.

Kayla Cox, an HR specialist with McCain’s agriculture group, said it
offers several ag-related trades, including heavy equipment operations.

Craig Manufacturing staff greeted students and community members,
explaining the employment options the manufacturer offers. Last week,
NBCC officials visited the company’s Hartland-based plant to recognize
the firm’s $100,000 donation to the college’s Going Beyond program.

During the presentation, Craig president Ben Craig explained his
company’s effort to welcome women to their trades programs, noting their
welding program now features a half dozen women.

Kyle Culliton of Valley Refrigeration and Air Condition took time out of
his busy schedule to help at his company’s booth, offering a visitor the
chance to bend copper tubing into a photo folder to take home with them.

He said almost all companies feel the shortage of skilled tradespeople,
adding opportunities in industries like his would continue to grow.

He said that every building now needs air conditioning, and grocery
stores all need refrigeration.

Several well-known Carleton County businesses, including Covered Bridge
Potato Chips and CYV Motors, used the Try-A-Trade event to introduce
students and other visitors to skilled-trade opportunities.

N.B. Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson,
the Carleton-Victoria MLA, visited the event Thursday evening.

She called the event overdue, noting the importance of introducing
students to the many available career options.

Johnson said there are better options than university for some students.
She explained shop or technology classes play a vital role in keeping
some students interested in school.

She also gave the province’s community college system high marks for
their efforts to work with industry to fill New Brunswick’s
skilled-trade needs.

“I can’t say enough about NBCC,” Johnson said.

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