Students check out career options

Red Deer College was abuzz on Thursday, with the campus’s usual student population supplemented by more than 3,300 additional youths from across Central Alberta.

James Jones

Red Deer College was abuzz on Thursday, with the campus’s usual student population supplemented by more than 3,300 additional youths from across Central Alberta.

Representing some 35 high schools, the visitors were kicking tires on scores of career options during CAREERexpo. Organized by CAREERS: The Next Generation, the one-day event gave employers, post-secondary institutions and other organizations a chance to share information about trades, professions and other occupations available to young people today.

At Quinn Contracting Ltd.’s exhibit, young passers-by were able to try their hand at bolting, soldering, threading and welding pipe.

“It’s amazing to see the interest that some of the children actually have in trying it,” said Jo-Ann Curtis, a human resources official with Quinn Contracting. “We have a lot of girls in their fluffy little flip-flops and they come on in and throw on some coveralls and get at it.”

This kind of exposure is important, said Curtis, because it could prompt a young person to consider the trades as a career — and help address a pending skilled labour shortage in Alberta.

“We need to attract the new generation to come in so they can take over.”

Nearby, Jana Collicutt of Collicutt Compression Solutions Ltd. was sharing information about the new natural gas compression technician trade.

“We really want to get out and promote this, and encourage people to take this trade,” she said, noting that most of the young people she spoke with weren’t aware of the option.

But Collicutt, who helps with human resources at Collicutt Compression, said CAREERexpo was a great place to learn about all sorts of careers.

“I wish it was around when I was in high school.”

Mike VanLanduyt, a journeyman carpenter and construction teacher at Notre Dame High School, was supervising work on a shed. CAREERexpo attendees were able to try some basic carpentry work there.

VanLanduyt said Notre Dame’s Building Opportunities Program, which enables students to build a house each year, has graduated nearly 100 students during its eight years.

Two participants — Grade 12 students Dylan Rutschke and Chaz Piche — said Building Opportunities introduced them to construction and helped them get part-time jobs with local builders.

“It lets you try it out and see if it’s your fit,” said Piche.

Kendra Frith, a Grade 10 student at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, wants to be a pastor.

But she appreciated the wealth of career information at Red Deer College on Thursday.

“It’s pretty sweet; it’s pretty informative.”

Classmate Mackenzie deBoon, who hopes to become a psychologist, was also impressed. “It’s very well done.”

Jerry Heck, vice-president of stakeholder relations and growth with CAREERS: The Next Generation, said CAREERexpo helps students decide what kind of career they would like and shows them how to get there.

“For young people, the importance of this event is to increase and broaden their horizons as it pertains to career opportunity.”

Employers also benefit, he added, by drawing workers into their industries and even allowing then to meet prospective future workers.

Red Deer College president and CEO Joel Ward said RDC is happy to host the event and showcase all that it has to offer.

He said many young people aren’t aware of their career options and what they need to get there, so providing information is a critical step to meeting Alberta’s future skilled labour needs.

Ward said he’s been encouraged by the increased awareness of the trades and what they can provide to young people.

“For the first time, I think in my lifetime, we’re talking about a trades career being something important, something that you can earn a very good living at, and make as significant contribution to the economic development of our communities.

No longer is trades an opt-out career, it is now a career of choice.”

Red Deer College, Ward pointed out, trains 2,800 to 4,000 apprentices a year, making it the third largest trades training institution in Alberta, after NAIT and SAIT.

Such localized training is critical to ensuring that there is a strong workforce in this region, he said.

“Whenever we send folks out of Central Alberta, there’s a very strong possibility that they won’t come back.”

CAREERexpo was started six years ago by Central Alberta Economic Partnership Ltd.

Just Posted

Rural crime numbers dip: Alberta Justice

Rural property crime down 10% from 2017 to 2018

Caroline mayor pitching waste-to-energy project

Plan is for area municipalities will join together to supply project

Man tries to sell stolen vehicle to Ponoka dealership

RCMP have laid more than 20 charges against a man, following an… Continue reading

Health and wellness centre coming to Mustard Seed

The Mustard Seed in Red Deer is preparing for a new health… Continue reading

First Sylvan Lake pot shop to open Saturday

Valhalla Cannabis will open after eight months in limbo

Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ defence has been stellar so far this season

The offence has certainly been front and centre this season but the… Continue reading

Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

It wasn’t until the rise of the #MeToo movement that Julia Gartley… Continue reading

Equifax to pay up to US$700M in data breach settlement

Equifax will pay up to US$700 million to settle with U.S. federal… Continue reading

Aimia sues largest shareholder over alleged breach of contracted truce

Aimia Inc. has filed a lawsuit against its largest shareholder that accuses… Continue reading

Expert warns of Huawei monopoly in North, leaving residents vulnerable to China

Ottawa is creating conditions for the telecom giant Huawei to create a… Continue reading

A talking scale to fight obesity

Are readers tired of me telling them that they should step on… Continue reading

Acerbic satire of ‘The Beaverton’ thriving in polarized political climate

TORONTO — It’s a few days before the season 3 premiere of… Continue reading

Alcohol-linked ER visits by women and youth on the rise in Ont., study suggests

Alcohol-related health problems are posing a growing burden on Ontario emergency rooms,… Continue reading

Most Read