Lakeland student trades fair unveils career pathways

As the doors swung open on the morning of April 16, students from Grades 9 through 12 from Lakeland Catholic School Division, Northern Lights Public Schools and Conseil scolaire Centre-Est flooded in, eager to explore the myriad of career opportunities awaiting them. Among the exhibitors stood Master Corporal Zach Bailey, an instructor at 4-Wing Cold Lake, radiating enthusiasm as he introduced high schoolers to the world of technical trades.

"We're all technicians from the Training Flight School (TFS), for training technicians," Corporal Bailey explained. "We're teaching the trades courses - engine technicians, airframe technicians, weapons technicians."

With hands-on demonstrations and engaging conversations, Corporal Bailey and his team showcased the journey from apprentices to journeymen, unveiling the intricate techniques of troubleshooting specific to CF-18 aircraft.

"When we get new technicians at 4-Wing, they're generalists," he continued. "But we make them specifically CF-18 teachers. So that's where all of our courses are around."

In a corner of the venue, Cst. Isaac Hogan of the Bonnyville RCMP detachment stood ready to inspire the next generation of law enforcement officers.

"We're just trying to show them that the RCMP is a choice for them," Cst. Hogan explained. "It's still an opportunity for them because they live in Bonnyville."

With an air of determination, Cst. Hogan highlighted the importance of addressing the shortage of police personnel across Canada.

"In the past years, the RCMP wanted more experienced people, took older people," he noted. "But now, it's a lot of younger people. And yeah, there's definitely a shortage of police, not just in the RCMP in the region but in Canada."

Amidst the buzz of activity, Meagan MacEachern, communications officer for Lakeland Catholic School Division, witnessed the excitement firsthand.

"So the students came in the morning, they were transported here between 9:30 and 2:00, and they got the opportunity, in a closed event to come and meet the vendors and to try all the trades and do those fun activities," she described.

MacEachern explained that throughout the fair, students eagerly participated in activities, filling out bingo cards designed to encourage engagement with exhibitors. From snapping selfies with vendors to delving into the intricacies of various trades, the students embraced the chance to explore their future career paths.

"We've heard great feedback not only from the vendors but also the students," MacEachern remarked. "They found that the students are really engaged and excited about the opportunity to learn about the trades."

None

Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lakeland This Week