Co-ordinator helps high school students find opportunity in the skilled trades

Reg Toews is passionate about his work promoting careers in the skilled trades to the southeastern Manitoba high school community.
Reg Toews is passionate about his work promoting careers in the skilled trades to the southeastern Manitoba high school community.

Reg Toews knows southern Manitoba like the back of his hand. As a High School Apprenticeship Program Co-ordinator in the Red River Technical Vocational Area (RRTVA), Toews’ key responsibility is to be a liaison between high schools, students and employers across five school divisions in the southernmost regions of the province.
Toews can easily clock hundreds of kilometres in his efforts to promote the skilled trades to students as an attractive career path.
Toews feels this commitment is worth the extra time and travel because his job allows him the opportunity to help students make real-life career choices. “I’m working to make trades a reality for their future,” he says.
After starting his career as a junior high school teacher, Toews eventually felt the need to switch focus. “An opportunity arose where I could make a change. I didn’t know a lot about the High School Apprenticeship Program (HSAP), but I thought it was pretty interesting.”
Toews became a High School Apprenticeship Instructor and now works full-time for the RRTVA promoting vocational training and the HSAP.
Graduate with a plan
Toews says that Manitoba’s HSAP gives students a head start by teaching students about responsibility and providing valuable life skills, such as money management. “These are skills you can’t learn in a classroom. The program allows students to become independent and to graduate from high school with a definite plan.”
The timing couldn’t be better. Both provincial and federal governments have started to focus on increasing the number of skilled tradespeople in the province and across the nation, which means there is mounting pressure on education systems to endorse apprenticeship training in schools.
In Toews’ opinion, the support to increase vocational training in the schools has been welcome and has also encouraged growth. “This support has created jobs and strengthened the apprenticeship system. With collaboration from all levels, we are working together to help mould the system so it better supports skilled trades training.”
Teaming up
The network of support for the HSAP includes a Professional Learning Group (PLG) co-chaired by Toews, comprised of educators from around the province. Information sessions are held quarterly to promote apprenticeship training within high schools and provide resources to educators.
According to Toews, the PLG provides the opportunity for educators to learn from each other. He adds that he is excited about the future potential for the group to help further expand opportunities for students to get involved in the skilled trades.
“The PLG is made up of a diverse group of teachers who come together to brainstorm and network. They learn from each other and help strategize ways to improve the opportunities for students. There is currently real momentum within apprenticeship and the trades. These forces are opening doors to a great future for young students.”
The High School Apprenticeship Program gives students the opportunity to gain paid, supervised, on-the-job training in a skilled trade while completing their high school education. This experience can be counted as credit toward graduation as well as post-secondary apprenticeship.
For more information, visit the Apprenticeship Manitoba website at http://www.manitoba.ca/tradecareers or contact your HSAP co-ordinator.
-Apprenticeship Manitoba

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