Trades partnership a win

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I’ve lived in Haliburton County for eight years, and for as long as I have been a Highlander, talk of a shortage of skilled tradespeople, as well as a lack of housing for them, has been a hot topic.

I’ve heard two terms of County councillors lament ‘why can’t we do more with the high school or Haliburton School of Art + Design (HSAD)’?
So, it was heartening to see County director of economic development, Scott Ovell, bring a report to a recent council meeting about a budding partnership between the County and the Haliburton County Homebuilders Association (HCHBA) – which is in turn working with Haliburton Highlands Secondary School (HHSS).

The County has basically committed to giving the HCHBA about $8,000 so it can purchase tools and materials from local businesses to put into the high school.

Last May, the County and HCHBA, in conjunction with Jason Morissette at the high school, organized for 30 students to spend a day visiting skilled trades worksites in the County. They went to Sunbelt Rentals, Holden Truss, a construction site at 75 per cent completion, a finished timber frame home, and a large landscaping site.

It was experiential learning at its best. The students got to hear from people in the trades, ask questions, and see exactly what future jobs, such as carpentry, electrician and plumber, might look like.

It was deemed a huge success by the County, HCHBA and the school.

In addition to the inaugural bus tour, members of the HCHBA have been volunteering to go into the school to share their practical and theoretical knowledge, in shop as well as math and science classes.

I don’t know about you, but calculating which speeding train was going to make it to the station first did not set me on fire. However, had someone come to my class to explain that math equations could one day help to calculate how to build a wall, and make a very good wage off of doing that, I might have sat up a little straighter in my seat.

When I was in school a thousand years ago, it was deemed the smart kids went to university and the not-so-clever went to college. I wish I had been given more exposure to the prospect of entering the trades. Even today, as a keyboard warrior, I wonder what it would be like to be on a roof somewhere in Haliburton County with a spectacular view of a nearby lake?

Getting kids interested in high school is fundamental to our skilled trades shortage. Drawing from a pool of people who already live in the County is a no-brainer. With changed housing rules that allow secondary dwelling units, these kids could easily have their own future homes on large properties owned by their parents.

The best news is the County, HCHBA and high school are planning a second bus tour this spring and it’s hoped HCHBA members can visit the high school at least once a month. They’re volunteering their time and materials, so having the support of the County makes tremendous sense.

It’s an idea that is most welcome and one we can all get behind.