January 16th, 2021

Ironworkers celebrate student skills

By Nick Kuhl on June 22, 2019.

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


The Ironworkers Local 725 Training Centre recently held an open house
event to showcase and celebrate the skills local high school students
have learned in the past nine weeks working with the training centre.
“There are 16 students,” explained Local 725 Ironworkers apprentice
co-ordinator Oakley Cooper, “and they come here for full days, 9-4
p.m., and they train in the different branches of ironworking
including structural steel erection, reinforcing, welding and
fabrication, and we also begin their safety training, of course. It’s
a safety-sensitive trade, and we take that very seriously. We keep
these kids very busy. It’s 80 per cent hands-on and 20 per cent
Now in its third year, the 10-week course allows Grade 12 students
chosen to take part gain exposure to the trades, and possibly think
about ironworking as a potential career after they graduate, said
Career Transitions executive director Judy Stolk-Ingram. Career
Transitions works with the training centre to help facilitate the
“Something like this program is totally 100 per cent experiential,”
she said. “They are not just hearing about it or watching it, they
are actually learning hands-on for pretty much the whole time. Because
they have that practical, hands-on opportunity to check things out,
they pretty much know afterward if they like it or they don’t. It is
definitely going to help them to make an informed decision moving
Stolk-Ingram said the program has had a high success rate of actually
helping to springboard the majority of the students who have taken
part into the trades post-high school.
“We have had some great success,” she confirmed. “In the very
first year, out of 15 students, there were 10 that moved into the
trades and four others that moved into industrial types of jobs
following this experience.”
One of this year’s program participants, Tionie Page, said she has
certainly been sold on a career in ironworking thanks to what she has
learned at the Local 725 Training Centre.
“I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do after high school,”
admitted Page, “and I was offered this program and I decided to give
it a shot. It has been awesome. I, for sure, want to be an Ironworker,
and in the trades. With tickets, like fork-lift operation, you can get
here, it’s not just for one trade— it kind of goes around into
other trades as well.”
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