July 12th, 2024

College celebrates Apprenticeship Day

By Lethbridge Herald on September 26, 2023.

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman

Lethbridge College celebrated Apprenticeship Day with a barbecue for the multiple apprentices who are  enrolled in the various trades programs offered at the institution. 

Along with many industry partners and members of the Lethbridge College community, dozens of apprentices took part of the celebration. They listened to speeches recognizing the important role they play within the community and how valuable their skills are before enjoying some food provided by the culinary department. 

Dean for the Centre of Trades, Sheldon Anderson, spoke to media during the event and said he was happy with the decision from the government to have the fourth Monday of September be recognized as Apprenticeship Day in Alberta. 

“We’re excited to see that it’s coming out of the shadows and the importance that apprentices play in the overall economy and the well-being of the province. I can’t say how happy I am, I’m just elated, it’s just a long time coming in my opinion,” said Anderson. 

He said it is very important to him to be able to recognize apprentices because they rarely receive the recognition they deserve. He believes they are probably the most unrecognized part of the education system. 

“They spend 80 per cent of their time learning on the job and 20 per cent of their time in technical school, but while they’re in technical school they’re in class every day from 8 to 4 taking on a lot of information, and it’s all a lot of pressure because their livelihood depends on them being successful,” said Anderson. 

He said for apprentices every time they complete one more training period, they get a raise and  move closer to their goal of being a journeyman.

“It is amazing to see the dedication apprentices put into their training and it’s really nice we can actually recognize it so they can get the same recognition as a full-time student anywhere else,” said Anderson. He then highlighted the importance of having community support not only for the college but to those who are taking on an apprenticeship. 

“We’ve always had industry support, but not only from the big corporations, but from the big companies right down to the mom-and-pop shops, and they’re the ones that really do count all the way through. They give up their hard-earned money, they support apprentices coming through which costs them money to put them through, but not only that, they actually have donated several times over,” said Anderson. 

He said industry partners not only support them by hiring apprentices, they also help by sitting on advisory boards. 

One of those industry partners that support the college is Southland Trailers and their head of marketing Michael Starks told media Monday apprentices are vital for Southland Trailers. 

“We’re continuously growing, we’re about to open plant six, so that is 100 more employees that we need from the Lethbridge area, and you can’t just plug those out of the air, you have to develop them, and we understand that, so we always say start your career with us,” said Starks. 

He said apprentices are vital to keeping Southland growing and their products having that continuous quality improvements. They hire apprentices from welders, plumbers, millwrights, to HVAC, and say they cannot grow without them. 

“We know they are apprentices, we know that they’re going to make some mistakes and learn from them. I actually have a plaque on my desk that simply says, ‘to learn the ropes of life, you have to untie the knots’ and that’s kind of what in apprenticeship is all about,” said Starks. 

Automotive Service Technician apprentice Stephen Hogan said he is in his first year and the program is going great thanks to the helpful hand of his instructors and those in the Indigenous services centre who help him find a place to live once he moved to Lethbridge from Fort McMurray. 

“It’s been very welcoming and it’s been really good,” said Hogan. 

He said he was kind of thrown into his apprenticeship after losing his job in Fort McMurray, but he is enjoying it so far. 

“I already just been able to secure employment, because it’s just not enough to cover everything these days, so after I do my college course here, at the end of the day I actually go to a mechanic shop and work for four or five hours,” said Hogan. 

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