Josh Church, a carpentry instructor at Assiniboine Community College’s School of Trades, is the recipient of Instructor of the Year at Apprenticeship Manitoba’s 16th annual Apprenticeship Awards of Distinction gala.
The event, held in Winnipeg on Nov. 2, saw three other Assiniboine instructors up for the award, including Rick Baker, math and science instructor, and Kyle McDonald and Kelly Hiscock, both agriculture and heavy duty equipment technicians.
Just being nominated was “very humbling,” Church said at the event, which was part of Apprenticeship Recognition Week, held annually during the first week of November. Representatives from Skills Canada also attended the event as part of National Skilled Trades and Technology Week, to promote the upcoming Skills Canada National Competition that will be held in Winnipeg in May.
“I cannot express how grateful I am to be the recipient of this award,” Church said.
Church is one of Manitoba’s trades professionals, all of whom have made “outstanding contributions” in developing the province’s skilled workfoce, said Jon Reyes, Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration Minister, in a Thursday press release.
“Manitoba’s qualified trades professionals are important role models for those looking for interesting career options that help build a strong and healthy economy for all Manitobans.”
Assiniboine’s School of Trades is “incredibly proud” of all the instructors that were nominated, as they all represented the passion educators feel in their vocation.
“These nominees exemplify Assiniboine’s vision of providing exceptional learning experiences in the classroom,” Dean Kevin Poirier said, extending a special congratulations to Church.
For Church, who is an alumnus as well as an instructor at Assiniboine, having completed all levels of his technical training for his carpenter apprenticeship at the college, what’s most important is the students he gets to teach every day.
“The best feeling as a tradesperson was walking away from a job and seeing what you had created or accomplished. My students are now that accomplishment,” Church said. “As an instructor, just seeing the growth happening in a student … is very rewarding.”
Church has been working with the college since 2018, and has been instructing in the carpentry program at the Len Evans Centre for Trades and Technology for five years. He said he hopes to instil in his students confidence to challenge themselves to move forward and be proud of what they create and achieve.
“Tools may be upgraded or created, but a skilled tradesperson will never be replaceable,” he said, adding that numbers for the industry are still positive. “They need more skilled hands, for sure. I don’t think the need for us is going to go anywhere.”
Church has also been inspired by the amount of women entering not just carpentry but all trades at Assiniboine.
“There are more females entering into [the industry], I believe. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a few really good ones on site.”
Church is currently working toward his National Construction Safety Officer designation.
Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun