Level Up Career Fair at Western Fair District

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It was an interactive introduction to skilled trades.

Over the course of two days, 5,244 students from around southwestern Ontario took part in the Level Up Career Fair at Western Fair District.

“I just laid some bricks, went up the carpentry tower, and then I did a bit of metal work demonstrations. So, it’s been really fun,” said Abigail Steffler, a grade nine student at Elmira District Secondary School.

Steffler is thinking of following in her father’s footsteps of working in the trades. Like many others in attendance, she’s getting a chance to see what life could be like after high school.

“I came in today to figure out what I wanted to do in the future and obviously ask questions of the people that actually work in the trades and see what they enjoy about it,” said Michael Duffy, a grade twelve student at Holy Cross in Strathroy, Ont.

“I was looking at airplanes and possibly becoming an airplane technician. I was working with sheet metal and was looking at designing and did some cool welding simulation,” he said.

Michael Duffy (right) learns how to use sheet metal at Skilled Trades fair in London, Ont. on Nov 1, 2023. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

The energy in the building was palpable, as the teens were actually enjoying getting hands-on experience.

“People tend to think that after high school you would go to college, or you would go to university, but apprenticeship – it looks different,” said Sharon Devries, Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program coordinator for Thames Valley. “We call it, ‘Earn while you learn.’”

Devries said invitations were sent to each secondary school in the region. Students were on hand to learn about the apprenticeship pathway.

“The sectors represented here are industrial, construction, and automotive motor power,” said Devries. “Students are putting the bricks down, they’re climbing the scaffolds and they’re welding.”

Abigail Steffler (right) works with an apprentice as she learns how to lay bricks at a Skilled Trades fair in London, Ont. on Nov 1, 2023. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

At Liuna 1059, students were racing to assemble and take apart scaffolding.

“We’re always looking for skilled workers, and the younger the better, because we can impression them more,” said Kyle Hodgins, instructor at Liuna 1059 who runs the trades events at high schools.

“We are just introducing these kids and the hope is that one or two of these kids decides this is what they want to do. It’s about is getting our name out there to as many kids as you can. So when they’re looking for the career path, we’re an option for them,” said Hodgins.

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