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Skills Ontario camps aim to expose students to career possibilities in the trades

Angela Gismondi
Skills Ontario camps aim to expose students to career possibilities in the trades
SKILLS ONTARIO — Twenty-six Skills Ontario Camps will be held across Ontario this summer, focusing on a number of skilled trades and technology sectors including construction.

This summer, Skills Ontario Summer Camps will allow almost 400 students to explore careers in the skilled trades and technology through hands-on, interactive activities in the construction, manufacturing, transportation and service sectors.

Entering its ninth season, the camp is a week-long, full day program for kids entering grades 7 to 9 and runs in various locations across the province during the months of July and August. The 26 camps across the province are organized by Skills Ontario staff and include workshops, industry tours and mentorship which are led by industry professionals and college instructors. The workshops, which are held at college campuses or industries, include electrical, machining, wood working and heavy equipment.

“They are really enjoyable, fun camps and it also exposes youth to careers that they might not hear about in other ways and helps them make decisions about their future and see some professions that maybe they didn’t know about before,” said Kayla Bezaire, summer camp program manager, Skills Ontario.

“A lot of people really enjoy learning in a hands-on environment so that’s what we’re trying to do is make sure they can learn in a very hands-on way. It’s great for people who think they are interested in a skilled trade but also great for people who have no idea what they want to do.”

The camps aim to introduce participants to the skilled trades and technology and make them aware of the available career options, apprenticeship pathways and relevant courses they can take in secondary school to pursue a career in the trades.

“At any age you can learn about new professions and trying to make decisions about your future but those Grade 7, 8, 9 students they are still in that age where it’s all still about having fun and they’re open minded,” said Bezaire. “It’s good to have that experience at that age to see at that age what is out there.”

The camps also teach and emphasize the value of employability skills, with many of the activities focusing on soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem solving which are needed for any career.

The camps are facilitated in partnership with colleges, industries and community volunteers. Skills Ontario has strong relationships with the partners who participate in the program, Bezaire noted, adding the colleges and industry partners typically offer programs they specialize in.

“It’s really great that the colleges and industries that we partner with invite campers into their classrooms and do workshops with them so they get to meet people who are either teaching or working in the industry and get to see and know someone who is in those professions,” said Bezaire. “The campers are in a setting – whether its industry or a college – where they get to go in and see different examples of skilled trades first hand.”

This year Skills Ontario is once again offering co-ed, all-girls and all-boys camps as well as First Nations, Metis, Inuit-focused and Francophone camps.

Skills Ontario Summer Camps are hosted in partnership with Magna International, Hydro One, the Government of Ontario, and many local colleges and other industry organizations.

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