Friday, Dec. 15, 2023
Industry and education unite at Parry Sound High School showcase
Parry Sound High School (PSHS) is working on bridging the gap between industry partners and students while promoting the skilled trades as a career option.
Last year, PSHS hosted a construction and transportation dinner after the development of their construction and mining pecialist high skills major (SHSM) program. Members of various Parry Sound-area industries were invited to have a meal and discuss the school’s programs and how to move forward with industry support.
From this meeting the PSHS Tech and Trades Showcase was born. The event saw many industry representatives visit PSHS where they had the opportunity to tour the school’s construction, automotive and culinary arts classrooms and have discussions with teachers about skilled trades education and career pathways.
The tour was followed by an opportunity for industry partners to showcase their businesses directly to students.
“Students had the opportunity to talk directly to employers and view presentations that will inspire questions and develop opportunities for co-op placements, Ontario youth apprenticeship program (OYAP) training and future meaningful well-paying careers,” said Blair Cousins, hospitality and culinary arts teacher and technology team leader. “So often, opportunities are missed because people are not aware they are there. The more engaged our industry is with the school, the greater the opportunity our students have to explore potential prospects. We would like to follow the lead of the Near North District School Board’s (NNDSB) multi-year strategic plan to continue create and grow community partnerships with our local Parry Sound-area stakeholders.”
Joel Constable, McDougall Township councillor and construction business owner said that young people have many different career avenues available to them and it’s important them to be aware of the rewarding opportunities available in the trades.
“Businesses are here for recruitment, to encourage students to look at their industries at that critical time when young people are starting to make choices. I see one of the biggest benefits of the showcase is getting students into summer jobs. To get them exposed to the industry and hopefully encourage them to pursue it. It’s an easy way to try something out. They will get to make some money, but also the get the experience of being there and seeing what the future potential is.”
NNDSB Trustee Jeanie Fuscaldo, who helped to facilitate the Tech and Trades Showcase, said that there has been a decline in skilled tradespeople across all sectors that has been rapidly increasing over the past decade.
“One of our guest attendees said it best ‘10 years ago you would be coming to us for a job, today we find ourselves in a position where we are competing to hire and retain you, the employees.’ By providing our students with information and direction about a variety of pathways into the trades, we’re helping remove barriers and open doors they may not have known existed. These pathways keep our students engaged in their education and build a solid foundation for their future goals,” Fuscaldo said.
Cousins described the showcase as a ‘second step’ in a program of engagement in the trades which will grow to include students a young as Grade 7. Future steps include giving younger students the opportunity to attend trades showcases, a greater focus on construction, green energy, technology and workplace safety and the growth of Skills Ontario competitions to extend to students in Grades 7 and 8 in Parry Sound and eventually across NNDSB.
“NNDSB has been proactively supporting our tech and trade programs, which allows us have partnerships with local businesses in the Parry Sound region,” Fuscaldo said. “Together we will be able to create unique opportunities for mentorship, training, apprenticeships, and employment, all of which support the needs of our students and families and contribute to our healthy, vibrant communities for generations.”