Haliburton Highlands Secondary School student Braedon Miller said he always thought he would end up in the trades so found a Supporting Ontario Youth skilled trades day at the high school Oct. 12 “interesting.”

“I think it’s pretty neat,” Miller said while taking a lunch break. “We had the chance to actually come out and do plumbing stuff.”

Support Ontario Youth’s Steve Dramnitzke said the day was about introducing students to plumbing with some hands-on activities. There was also a panel offering tips on things such as resume writing, finding out what employers are looking for, and what students need to do to get into the trades.

“Every student that comes in today gets $250 worth of free tools to be able to go out into the trades, get to do some hands-on projects, so they understand a few things,” Dramnitzke added.

Chris Simpson, who teaches woodworking and automotive at the high school, said it was the first session of the Trillium Lakelands District School Board’s new Start Me Up campaign.

“This is basically a means to help address a little bit of the skilled trades shortage,” he said.

“They started [the campaign] and this organization, Supporting Ontario Youth, put together these boot camps to help entice some of the kids to maybe explore some of the trades. So, this one here is plumbing and they come and they actually do some plumbing projects and soft skills as well, employability skills, and all that good stuff. The kids get some tools and some lunch.”

The boot camps were also headed to Bracebridge and Lindsay this week with a focus on automotive and millwrighting. Electrician sessions are also on the cards.

“We’re the first run for the board which is kind of nice,” Simpson said.

Haliburton Highlands Home Builders Association executive director Aggie Tose was one of the panelists on hand to answer students’ questions.

“Today is about getting kids involved in the trades,” she said. “Just getting them on our worksites.”

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