Skip to main content

Windsor’s Industry Day exposes students to new job possibilities

Hands-on learning. Marcus Cameron, left, and Landen Laframboise from Ecole Secondaire l.J. Lajeunesse get some jackhammer instruction from LiUNA! Local 625 apprentice Nicolas Peters, centre, during Industry Day on Thursday, March 21, 2024 at the union's training facility in Oldcastle. PHOTO BY DAN JANISSE /Windsor Star

Claudia Hajing couldn’t picture herself at the controls of a Bobcat digger — until she was.

The Ecole Secondaire E.J. Lajeunesse Grade 10 student was one of over 500 students from the four local school boards given the opportunity to enjoy some hands-on experience in a variety of employment sectors offered at Workforce WindsorEssex’s first Industry Day on Thursday.

“It has been helpful,” said Hajing, who got a hands-on chance at a variety of construction equipment at LiUNA! Local 625’s training centre in Oldcastle.

“I didn’t know the specifics of going into the trades. I didn’t know the time it takes or what they get paid. There are a lot of misconceptions.

“There’s more of a chance of me being in construction than before.”

Workforce WindsorEssex research assistant Bailey Soulliere said the tours were constructed as a complementary piece to the well-established Manufacturers’ Day held each fall.

The 19 employers who participated in Industry Day ranged from the technology and aerospace to hospitality sectors.

“The key difference is expanding it to other in-demand sectors,” Soulliere said. “To show students what’s available in terms of careers and all the different industries we have locally.”



LiUNA! Local 625 apprentice Dakota Laliberte, left, gives Blake Cowgill, a student from Ecole Secondaire L.J. Lajeunesse some tips on working a skid steer loader during Industry Day on Thursday, March 21, 2024 at the union’s training facility in Oldcastle. PHOTO BY DAN JANISSE /Windsor Star

LiUNA! recruiter Howie Brox said it’s invaluable for industry to get students exposed to different career pathways and learn what those careers could look like in order to attract their future employees into workplaces.

“We find when students get to experience, touch and feel and see what goes on they understand this is very much like a (post-secondary school) campus,” Brox said. “You have classrooms and real-time learning laboratories in our training facilities.

“Much like an airplane simulator, it has to be real.”

Brox said the Ontario construction industry is going to lose 700,000 workers to retirement by 2030 and will have a shortage of 1.2 million skilled trades.

“We’re going to need to add 375,000 apprentices per year,” Brox said.

“We need fresh minds. We need men and women.

“Women are becoming one of the biggest juggernauts in the construction industry.”

At Local 625’s training centre, one of 13 LiUNA! has provincially, students could reach skywards with hydraulic lifts, experience the depths of a sewer and operate a variety of heavy machinery.

Braeden Comtois, another E.J. Lajeunesse Grade 10 student, discovered what’s beneath a manhole cover, taking a plunge into a sewer. He emerged with a new appreciation about the possibilities of a construction career.

Ecole Secondaire E.J. Lajeunesse Grade 10 student Braeden Comtois peers up from a replica sewer pipe at LiUNA! 625’s training centre in Windsor on March 21, 2024. DAVE WADDELL/Windsor Star PHOTO BY DAVE WADDELL /Windsor Star

“Working with your hands and being on your feet, you’re more active,” said Comtois of the attraction of such a career.

“The thing that surprised me is the pay. It’s surprising they’re paid that much.”

Brox said a Red Seal construction craft worker makes an average of $55 per hour, with average annual pay ranging from $65,000 to $95,000. In comparison, the average pay range for all Ontario workers is $55,000 to $79,000.

“Construction careers aren’t put out there to consider as much in school,” Comtois said. “I think today was very helpful in opening students’ eyes to other opportunities and jobs out there.”

Vienne Donaldson, another Grade 10 student, was particularly intrigued by the idea of being paid while learning a construction trade.

“I like how you make money while you learn,” Donaldson said. “University leaves you with a lot of debt.

“I like being able to get experience while being paid.”

Donaldson added Industry Day was also useful in helping break down some of the stereotypes about the different opportunities available in industry and skilled trades.

“A real good level of intelligence is required to do this,” Donaldson said.

“There are a lot of stereotypes that it’s for people who are not very smart and to have high pay you need to go into things like medicine or science.

“The money you can make (in construction trades) was one the big surprises.”

Translate »