Weston Family Foundation Skilled Trades Report

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Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program Increasing recruitment, retention and employability in Canada through a unique granting program June 2021

Introduction 1 Foreword 4 Program Recru

Overview 6 uitment 8 Retention 10 Employability 12 Written by Jeremy Braithwaite With contributions from Weston Family Foundation, Algonquin College, Camosun College, Conestoga College, Durham College and Loyalist College Published with support from Weston Family Foundation Image, left: Algonquin College student, Zoe, working on a Carpentry and Joinery project. Image, above: Loyalist College student, Mark, working in a metal shop Image, front cover: Camosun College student, Christie, working in a welding workshop. Image, back cover: Loyalist College student, Jessica, poses with her welding gear.

The state of skilled trades education in Canada There is an ever-growing demand for apprentices and journeypersons in the skilled trades across Canada, and prompt action is needed to meet these needs. In the face of workforce retirements and declining registrations in the trades, a Canadian Apprenticeship Forum National Report published in 2020 identified a 12 per cent decline between 2014 and 2018. The same report also indicated that Canada must attract more than 350,000 new skilled trade apprentices and 155,000 journeypersons over the next five years. This is no small task. It requires dedicated efforts to ensure successful recruitment and retention across all skilled trades programs. There are many pathways to achieve professional certification in the skilled trades. This report effectively shines a light on the certification process through college education programs that guide participants through pre-apprenticeship. The skilled trades system in Canada can be complex for several reasons, but this apprenticeship model (a combination of in-school and on-the-job training) has been embraced by policy makers from across the country as they speak about the importance of Work Integrated Learning (WIL). Through the Weston Family Foundation’s work with numerous colleges across Canada, they identified strategies that proved successful in supporting skilled trades students on their journey. Along with the financial supports provided to Weston Family Scholars, the critical role of the program “Project Lead” at each institution facilitated a holistic approach which helped participants navigate their specific situation and achieve their individual and program objectives. The Skills for Success framework announced by the Federal government in May of 2021, identified nine essential skills that are crucial to success in any occupation including skilled trade careers. This report echoes the importance of these employment or soft skills, which shows that community engagement helps participants build their network, and challenges them to be strong communicators and to work in a team environment. Thank you to the Weston Family Foundation for their contributions to the skilled trades ecosystem in Canada. Although this Skilled Trades funding program is winding down, Skills/Compétences Canada is looking at how we can take the learnings from this report and apply them to our future activities. I encourage you to share it widely with Canada’s skilled trades community. Shaun Thorson Chief Executive Officer

Image, top: Camosun College students Chloe, Gillian, and Dylan posing in heavy mechanical trades workshop (Credit: ITS-Camosun College). Image, bottom: Conestoga College students Kait, Thu, and Andrea, at a student event (Credit: Conestoga College)

Supporting Canadians through education and training The Weston Family Foundation has a proud history of supporting education programs and scholarships for Canadians. My grandmother, Reta Howard Weston, was a teacher who instilled a love of learning in her children that has been passed down through the generations. We know that with education comes opportunity and security, and through support for education programs, we can benefit the well-being of Canadians. Over the past 60 years our family foundation has invested in education through scholarships, endowments and special projects at Canadian universities and colleges. This work is led by our Foundation’s Education Committee, a group of board members who almost 10 years ago were determined to encourage and support Canadians to undertake trades training. With this work, we sought to address the looming labour market gap, and also equip Canadians with valuable qualifications in the trades to open up career opportunities. In our efforts to achieve this, we approached a variety of colleges across Canada for conversations about how to develop programs that build awareness and encourage success in the skilled trades sector. We piloted programs, developing our understanding as they progressed, and adapting them as we understood what worked, what didn’t, and what we hadn’t anticipated. As a result of these pilot programs we, along with our college partners, identified a number of best practices to support students as they embark on their skilled trades training and careers. What follows is a summary of some of our findings, along with individual stories to illustrate the effects of the Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program on the students themselves. After nearly a decade of this rewarding work, our Foundation is sunsetting our Skilled Trades program this year. We created this report to share what we’ve learned, with the hope that the information will inspire other colleges and other funders to support similar initiatives to elevate skilled trade programs across Canada. We would be delighted to share more of our learnings for those interested in investing in this important educational sector. Thank you to the teams at Algonquin, Camosun, Conestoga, Durham, and Loyalist colleges— this pilot program’s success is a result of your hard work and passion. Most of all, thank you to the Scholars who have taken part in the Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program. We have learned so much from you and we wish you continued success in your careers. Emma Adamo Chair

Image: Loyalist College student, Kelsey, posing at a worksite

Program Overview A strong collaboration with college partners has proven invaluable to the refinement of the program The Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program supports students undertaking college-based training of post-secondary pre-apprenticeship diplomas, certificates and apprenticeships. In this program the Foundation, college and student each contributes to the overall program goals to: • Remove barriers to success by raising awareness and prestige of a trades career • Provide targeted support to individuals, particularly those who face significant barriers, to build a career in the trades • Create competitive advantage for individuals beginning their careers in the ever-changing landscape of trades across Canada Over the past decade, the Foundation has worked closely with colleges to develop and fund a model that delivers on these goals, contributing $7 million in funding. In doing, so we have learned that a support program for skilled trades students must go beyond bursaries—it must also increase the recruitment, retention and employability of students and apprentices who are beginning their careers. Following years of studying initiatives to support trades students, four essential elements of a successful program have become clear: a flexible funding partnership, open and honest dialogue, wrap-around support for students and community engagement.

Flexible Funding Partnership Funding for the Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program has been provided by the Foundation to support student stipends, wrap-around support, marketing and special events. The funding arrangements with the Foundation have been varied based on the changing needs of each college alongside the specific needs of their student populations. Colleges contribute to the costs borne by Scholars by waiving tuition costs. The provision of stipends and tuition support acknowledges that funding is often a barrier to individuals entering and maintaining trades training. Stipend amount and structure has been tailored to each college in response to a variety of needs related to their locations, including differences in provincial supports. Some colleges pay stipends to Scholars as standard practice, others pay funds only in response to articulated need (for example, to repair a broken-down car that would prevent a student from attending a rural-based college). Others hold back a portion of Scholar funding to incentivize post-secondary graduates to continue onto apprenticeship, paying them when they receive confirmation of their registration.


Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program

Funding for marketing and special events was made available to colleges that approached the Foundation with ideas during the academic year. This allowed colleges a simple and flexible way to test new outreach activities and to leverage opportunities that may arise at any time. In short, the Foundation has been open to providing flexible and additional funding to allow colleges to respond to new ideas, challenges and opportunities.

Open and honest dialogue The key to the flexible funding model is open and honest communication about the challenges faced in supporting Scholars to succeed. The Foundation has encouraged colleges to share these issues even if it meant admitting that something was not working in its current form. Everyone involved regards these challenges as opportunities to trial new approaches and ideas rather than consider the work as failing. We understand that the trades training landscape is complex, with many moving parts given the involvement of policymakers and industry. By finetuning the program model, the Foundation and colleges have been able to address weaknesses in the original plans, and remain responsive to the changing trades landscape in Canada. Image: Frédéric, an Algonquin College student, working in the Heritage Carpentry and Joinery course

Program Overview


Scholars are encouraged to ‘give back’ to the program and participate in building a strong community.

To further encourage open and honest dialogue at the beginning of each program, and now­— as we near the end—participating colleges committed to sharing their challenges and learnings with each other, enabling the group to troubleshoot and exchange best practices. This report, developed in collaboration with all the college program partners, is testament to the openness of the participants who have been part of the Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program­—and to their dedication to supporting their trades students.

Holistic Support for Students Perhaps the most critical element of the program’s success is the requirement of each college to assign a dedicated staff person to support the program. This Project Lead is an individual retained through funding from the Foundation who acts as a point of contact for the students, alumni, faculty and college support staff to monitor individual Scholar progress and offer support for success. This provision of ‘wrap-around’ support means that each student receives more than simply financial assistance. Scholars have an accessible and trusted person they can turn to for help with academic upgrading, sourcing an apprenticeship, or financial difficulties. The Project Leads are proactive in identifying issues impacting each of the students and addressing the issues before they lead to attrition. The following pages will pay tribute to the impressive programming which each of these Project Leads facilitated, and the accompaniment that they provide for each Scholar. In addition to providing wrap-around support to Scholars, the Project Leads address the program goals by raising awareness of career options amongst secondary school students, teachers and counsellors. Project Leads liaise with local employers and industry groups and engage with provincial and national groups and forums to provide Scholars with up-to-date information and opportunities.

Community Engagement Scholars are encouraged to give back to the program by participating in building a strong community. Attending secondary school career fairs, mentoring students less advanced in their program, and supporting skilled trades programs at their college as alumni are all examples of ways the Scholars support the program. This requirement serves two main purposes:


Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program

1) I t helps to develop the Scholar’s professional skills, the skills that enable them to succeed at a workplace. While this is valuable for all types of students, it is paramount for trades students who will seek employment as an apprentice in order to further their training. 2) The Scholar’s ability to articulate the advantages of their career choice and their enthusiasm for their work is a powerful recruitment tool and helps contribute to the program goals as driven by the Project Lead. Collectively, these activities help ensure the success of this model in increasing the number of Canadians pursuing and completing their training and gaining meaningful skilled trades employment.

Key measures of success To assess the impact of this program, we measured outcomes and recorded approaches for achieving enhanced recruitment, retention and employability of Scholars. •

ecruitment: Since the program was launched, we have seen increased numbers of R students brought to the program and the skilled trades more broadly as the result of increased outreach and a reduction of barriers to entry. • Retention: Weston Family Scholars have excellent rates of retention thanks to the financial and ‘wrap-around’ support—professional, academic, social—as well as the sense of community the Project Leads foster. • Employability: Scholars are well positioned for employment with impressive numbers moving into and completing apprenticeships.

In this report, we will speak to each of these impact areas, detailing the approaches taken to achieve success and illustrating the real impact of this work by hearing from the Scholars and Project Leads themselves.

Image: Conestoga College student, Brent, working on a manual milling machine (Credit: Conestoa College)

Program Overview




Apprentices and Post-Secondary students will have received support between 2013 and 2022


Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program

The Project Lead

Dedicated staff offer much-needed support to Scholars Time and time again, Weston Family Scholars point to the support of the Project Lead as a foundational brick in the structure of their program success. The Project Lead provides critical engagement with, and support for, students throughout their journey. They must be well connected to internal and external stakeholders and administrators, have experience in skills and technology careers, and be passionate and knowledgeable with an ability to clearly communicate the mission and values of the program. The Project Lead creates opportunities for students to engage in mentorship activities with peers, as well as to share their own journey in the trades to inspire and encourage others. Activities like public speaking sessions, resumé-writing clinics, career days and panels are also delivered to assist in the development of the Scholar’s professional skills, contributing to self-esteem as well as future employability. Scholars become a part of a community of like-minded individuals who understand the value of mentorship, and continuously seek opportunities to learn and develop. In delivering this work, the Project Leads leverage other initiatives and programs being led by other trades stakeholders with similar program goals. Project Leads have proven to be particularly valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many students in college communities faced barriers when classes were moved to remote learning. This was especially challenging for students in skilled trades programs who often choose their trade for the hands-on and interactive elements. Project Leads worked closely with IT departments and Student Success departments to develop customized training opportunities and online opportunities for engagement, thus overcoming many barriers and helping the Scholars continue to be successful in their studies. Image: Algonquin College student, Leslie, posing at a worksite

Program Overview


Recruitment Increased awareness and reduction of barriers is key to improved engagement The Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program is helping recruit the next generation of skilled trades and technologies professionals by building awareness and understanding of trades training and the opportunities it provides, and by breaking down barriers to enrollment. Strategic recruitment activities are developed and implemented and although each college has its own unique strategies, these four approaches have proven successful:

Introduction of a flexible scholarship model The introduction of scholarships reduces the financial burden on students, thus removing this very formidable barrier for many potential participants. As a part of the program, this financial support is enhanced by colleges waiving tuition fees for Scholars. Scholarships offered range from $2,000 to $10,000 (depending on the length or type of studies) with some colleges opting to release a set amount to each Scholar, and others adjusting amounts to meet personal needs. Flexible scholarships provide a strong hook for promoting the Skilled Trades college program to guidance counsellors and are useful in the college advertising campaigns.

Influencing the Influencer In collaboration with a variety of partners, colleges take part in events to highlight the many opportunities in the skilled trades and technologies, and to share the pathways to entry. Educator Awareness Days are planned, and teachers and guidance counsellors with limited information about the skilled trades are invited to participate, often as part of their professional development days. Weston Family Scholars and Project Leads take participants through hands-on trades activities that challenge their academic and technical skills. Feedback from these events has been positive and has led to additional opportunities to promote and recruit students through in-school and board-level presentations.

“ Trades in our school falls under the stigma of a ‘lesser’ career path. This Professional Development Day clarified just how much of a myth that is!” — Anonymous survey response to Conestoga’s TradeUcation Event for educators


Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program

Increased student outreach Representatives from the Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program attend, present, and staff exhibits during various provincial conferences, engaging stakeholders to continue to raise awareness and program prestige. Scholars and Project Leads also conduct presentations at a variety of locations to build awareness of these careers and highlight what it takes to be successful in this field of work. They engage with students during open houses, campus tours, outreach events and on-campus trades sampler events.

Reaching underrepresented groups Weston Family Scholars are encouraged to participate in, or help facilitate, curated events for underrepresented group within the trades. Conestoga’s annual “Jill of All Trades” event includes more than 200 elementary and high-school students from across their catchment area. The event is designed to help girls develop a better understanding of the potential of skilled trades careers through hands-on workshops and opportunities to engage with female leaders in the Scholarship and the skilled trades. Loyalist’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Career Exploration Event provides similar hands-on experience, as well as an opportunity for students and educators to learn about the relationship between the trades and Indigenous culture.

Skills/Compétences Canada Skills/Compétences Canada is a tremendous resource for Scholars and its mission aligns well with the Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program. The provincial/territorial member organizations have developed activities and presentations­—such as high school and post-secondary trades competitions—to build awareness and interest in skilled trades and technologies careers. As a part of the Program, Scholars and Project Leads help facilitate these activities, presenting an opportunity for engagement with students and teachers who may have questions about the program, in specific, or opportunities within the trades, in general.

Image: Conestoga College students, Brooklyn, Kait, Kate and Andrea at the annual “Jill of all Trades” event (Credit: Conestoga College)




Nicholas Carpentry Foundation Program Camosun College

“The support though the Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program over the last year has had a major financial impact on my life and a positive influence on my well-being. Before the Camosun Carpentry Foundation Program, I had already dug deep into the pockets of student loan agencies, accumulating large and overwhelming debt. I did not finish my degree and I felt stuck, underqualified, and without a plan to make another attempt at post-secondary education. After becoming a Weston Family Scholar, my tone completely shifted. Not only was I able to finally create some breathing room financially, but school became a much more positive experience. I could focus on the education and learning opportunities the college had to offer instead of the overwhelming financial burden of post-secondary education. Now I have completed the program debt-free and with qualifications that have given me meaningful employment. This program has truly made a difference.”

Image, above: Nicholas, a carpentry student at Camosun College, posing with his work. Image, opposite: Algonquin College Electrical Engineering Technologist student, Hunter, poses at a job site


Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program


Kerri-Lynn Gleeson Project Lead Algonquin College

“Hunter, an Electrical Engineering Technologist student, became a Weston Family Scholar in the Program’s first year. He was so elated that he had to share his news with everyone back home! Hunter produced a presentation, set up appointments, and organized to visit three different schools in his hometown. He wanted the students, parents and guidance counsellors to know about his program—which he loved—and his award with this new scholarship program for the skilled trades. Hunter shared his personal story and presented the stats on salaries, job opportunities, fun facts, and stigmas about skilled trades. He said, ‘If you want it, go after it! Don’t worry about what others will say or do. I love what I am doing. I was told that I should go to university because of my marks—I am so happy that I didn’t, and I am so happy that I am in this field.’ If this presentation changes the thought process of just one parent or reverses the stigma of trades for one student, then Hunter has succeeded. Reeducating is integral to the advancement of skilled trades in Canada.”

“ If you want it, go after it! Don’t worry about what others will say or do. I love what I am doing. I was told that I should go to university because of my marks—I am so happy that I didn’t, and I am so happy that I am in this field.”


— Hunter, Electrical Engineering Technologist student, Algonquin College


Retention Additional supports help Scholars navigate the complex pathway to certification The pathway to skilled trades certification in Canada can be complex (three to five years depending on the provincial/territorial jurisdiction, combining alternate in-school and on-site training blocks), expensive (tools, time off, tuition, transportation and certification costs) and often self-directed (securing an apprenticeship, applying for/coordinating schooling, studying for certifications, identifying applicable grants, etc.) It’s no wonder that concerns about retaining learners on the certification pathway inevitably arise in conversations with students, journeypersons, colleges, policymakers and industry. It’s encouraging to see that program completion rates amongst Weston Family Scholars averages 93 per cent; 37 per cent higher than the national average as reported by StatsCan in 2013. Program success is attributed to more than financial assistance, although that is a core component. Weston Family Scholars receive various support and development opportunities throughout their college experience, all of which contribute to their holistic success. The following activities have been identified as key contributors to student retention and success:

Establishing a Community Project Leads act as focal points, building communities of Weston Family Scholars. Prior to beginning courses, Project Leads introduce Scholars to one another in special welcome sessions where students receive branded clothing, celebrating their membership in a community of Scholars. Once school begins, online groups provide opportunities to meet with, and learn from, one another. In multi-year programs, second-year mentors are often paired with new Scholars to provide them with a ‘buddy’ as they navigate their education and training. Regular program meetings, volunteer opportunities and drop-in hours are held to encourage collaboration and strengthen that sense of community. These meetings not only provide an opportunity to connect students and develop their soft skills, but help Project Leads keep in contact with Scholars, and raise awareness of important college services and support to aid in their journeys.

Helping to navigate college and trades education Project Leads engage with Scholars from enrollment to completion, offering a dependable resource to help them navigate the pathway to certification. Project Leads connect Scholars with services to encourage their academic success—services that support required academic upgrading, tutoring, accessibility services, online programming in specific subjects, developing academic success plans, etc. They help Scholars navigate the pathways to apprenticeships, the certification process, and how to secure grants and funding. Project Leads also provide opportunities for Scholars to engage with college Career and Alumni Services teams.


Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program

Celebrating and incentivizing completion Scholars receive their funding incrementally, contingent upon them achieving a certain GPA, as well as participating in a number of extracurricular mentorship activities.This not only encourages students to continue in programming, but helps to hone their soft and hard skills, while lending prestige to their inclusion in a cohort of Weston Family Scholars. The program has also shown that it is important to recognize and congratulate students for their success and perseverance, and draw attention to those who have supported them along their journey. As part of the program, Project Leads are required to recognize every Scholar who begins an apprenticeship (along with their employer/sponsor) as well as those who fully complete their apprenticeships with a notice in a local newspaper.

“ Ultimately, this program is about supporting our students and ensuring their success in education and a lifelong career in the skilled trades. I have an open-door policy which enables me to get to know the students individually, promote healthy communication, and establish trust. ” – Kerri-Lynn Gleeson, Project Lead, Algonquin College

Image: Ikechukwu, a Building Construction Technician student from Algonquin College




Jeremy Braithwaite Former Project Lead Loyalist College

“On Halloween night of 2018, a special costume made its debut on the streets of Belleville: a shiny to-scale replica of the Big Red Car from the TV show, The Wiggles. The car’s six-year-old ‘driver’, Brady Wilson, lives partially blind with Cerebral Palsy and has limited verbal skills. Loyalist students Stephen, Rebecca and Cameron were inspired to create Brady’s dream costume as part of their volunteer component for the Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades. The trio worked with more than 20 students from across the college to design, create and decorate Brady’s costume. In so doing, these Scholars founded the first satellite chapter of Magic Wheelchair, an American non-profit organization that builds custom costumes for children in wheelchairs. In a feature in the local newspaper, Stephen shared: ‘It’s a perfect example of how the little things can make such a big difference. Being a Weston Family Scholar inspires us to be role models in our community. I want to inspire someone the way my mentors have inspired me in the skilled trades. We’re building something that matters and we’re getting everybody on board.’”

“ There are many examples of Scholars coming together to support an initiative. While sharing their passion, they develop skills to help overcome barriers and improve their own success.” — Jeremy Braithwaite, Loyalist College


Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program


Divyansh Welding Engineering Technician Durham College

“The Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program gives students like me the amazing opportunity to access career-focused programs in skilled trades industries. I am now even more motivated than ever to remain in good academic standing. There are many obstacles a young man faces when choosing his career path. For me, it was difficult because my family did not approve of the skilled trades and I did not want to disappoint anyone. But, I stood up for what I wanted and am now in an amazing program, Welding Engineering Technician, with exceptionally amazing teachers that are always guiding me to success. Due to COVID-19, I was not able to get a job in the summer. I was living with, and caring for, my elderly grandmother and my job options were limited. I was not sure how things would turn out. My stepfather carries a world of responsibilities on his shoulders, and I knew that financially I would be in a tough spot. To do well in school, one needs basic necessities ranging from a roof over your head to a good working desktop computer. The Program came through for me and was able to help me in a big way. I have bought myself a good welding helmet, angle grinder, computer, and will save up to buy myself a good welding machine by next year. I am very proud and grateful to be able to call myself a Weston Family Scholar.”

Image, opposite: Stephen, Rebecca and Cameron, students from Loyalist College, pose with Brady in his Wiggles dream costume. Image, above: Durham College student, Divyansh, poses with his welding helmet.



Employability With additional support, Scholars finish their programs with the skills employers are seeking Project Leads work directly with industry and College Career Centres to identify needs, help Scholars navigate the complex apprenticeship pathway, and find careers they will genuinely enjoy and in which they will thrive. This is of particular importance in the skilled trades, where on-the-job hours are needed for accreditation. Weston Family Scholars graduate with both the required academic skills, and a toolkit of soft skills which employers have identified are critical to employee success. Among the colleges that have tracked employment rates, an impressive 90 per cent of Weston Family Scholar graduates are now employed within their fields of study. Project Leads work with colleges and industry to set Scholars up for success using a variety of strategies:

Improving soft skills The Scholarship is structured to provide opportunities for Scholars to develop their soft skills, the skills that enable them to connect with employers, secure positions, and thrive in a workplace. These include confidence, presentation skills, timekeeping, relationship-building and networking abilities. Scholars are encouraged to lead campus-based activities developing their leadership and planning skills along with boosting their confidence. In addition to the mentorship and team-building components of the program, Scholars receive personalized professional skill-support through connections with Career Centre or Employment Officers at strategic times throughout the academic year. Project Leads work with the Centres to not only provide attractive job prospects, but engage students in resumé-building sessions, strategic career-planning workshops, public speaking clinics and mock interview trainings.

Facilitating opportunities to connect with potential employers Project Leads orchestrate opportunities for Scholars to meet with potential employers and make connections that can support their route to being hired as an apprentice. Events such as the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum’s National Apprenticeship Symposium and the Skills Canada National Competition provide valuable opportunities to connect with potential employers, other Weston Family Scholars, and industry leaders to further network and gain insights into the field.


Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program

Co-curricular requirements give Scholars further encouragement and opportunities to engage with those who are already well-established within their fields. Through participation in employer events like industry breakfasts, regional board or committee meetings, or lunch-and-learns, Scholars gain information on trends and upcoming employer needs, and have an opportunity to meet with potential employers and speak to them directly through events like “Scholar Panels.”

Ensuring that Scholars give back Through local hands-on volunteering opportunities, Scholars have a chance to work side-by-side with other students, apprentices, or certified journeypersons. These opportunities help students develop their practical and soft skills, while learning the importance of giving back to the community. Events like these also raise the perception of the Weston Family Scholars amongst industry professionals who know that, in hiring a Scholar, they will be bringing on a conscientious and well-rounded employee.

Volunteering leads to full-time employment In the Spring of 2017, Weston Family Scholars from Loyalist College volunteered to help build a 6,000 square foot garage and install enhancements for the Trenton Fire Training Complex, a centre used by volunteer firefighters. Quintin, a Scholar in the Carpentry and Renovation Technology Program, met Dale Milligan, owner of RAD Home Improvements, on the site. Inspired by his professionalism and generosity, Dale offered Quintin a job which he began full time upon his graduation later that year.

Image: Algonquin College student, Joe, working at the metalwork workshop



90% of graduates are employed within their fields of study*


Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program

“ In order to support Camosun students right up to the employment stage, Scholars have participated in Marketing Yourself events. These events are tailored to resumé building, mock interviews and job search strategies. Students are provided with the opportunity to conduct an interview, be interviewed and observe an interview. By allowing students to participate in these three separate interactions, many report a heightened level of confidence. Many Foundation trades students have little experience building a resumé tailored to the trades. By focusing on students’ education, transferable skills and technical certifications, resumés are modified to meet industry requirements.” – Aaron Middlemiss, Project Lead, Camosun College Image: Colton, a student at Camosun College, doing electrical work in a workshop (Credit: ITS Camosun College) *Based on data from four participating colleges




Aaron Middlemiss Project Lead Camosun College

“Scholars are encouraged to give back to the community and volunteer for local trades renovations. HeroWork Victoria is a local not-for-profit organization committed to bettering the lives of people in the Greater Victoria area. HeroWork Victoria works towards completing two “Radical Renovations” per year in an effort to make a better community. Over the past few years, Weston Family Scholars have participated in many HeroWork renovations, working alongside project leads, site managers, employers, journeypersons, labourers and other volunteers. Students have worked on projects such as landscaping, painting and irrigation installations. Based on their skillsets, students are provided with opportunities to work on specific trades guided by the assistance of HeroWork mentors and leaders. HeroWork provides Scholars with an opportunity to operate on an active worksite alongside skilled tradespeople. While completing renovation work, Scholars are encouraged to network with these representatives. Students who have participated in HeroWork Radical Renovations have reported many benefits from their experience with optimistic views for future renovation projects.”

“ There are few women in the trades; at my place of employment there are currently only two female apprentices. It was great to hear stories from other women in trades and to be able to ask them questions about their experiences and journeys.” — Amanda, Mechanical Techniques Plumbing Graduate, Conestoga College


Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program


Amanda Mechanical Techniques Plumbing Graduate Conestoga College

“After graduating from the Journalism-Print Diploma program at Conestoga College, I worked at the Waterloo Region Record for just over 22 years but was laid off in May of 2019. This was the beginning of my new journey. Having worked on home renovations with my father, I thought that a job in construction might be my new path. After researching income levels for various construction jobs, I decided that I would like to become a plumber, and immediately arranged a visit with the department head at Conestoga. I was nervous but extremely excited and interested in learning more; they gave me a tour of the shop and answered all my questions. I applied to the Mechanical Techniques Plumbing program and was thrilled when I received my acceptance letter! I believe the Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program has benefited me in a number of ways. Though I wasn’t sure what to expect or how well I would adjust to being in school again, I was able to achieve a 97 per cent average! The informative sessions about apprenticeships and job searching were extremely helpful, and the scholarship money I received enabled me to purchase tools and work clothes that I will use during my new career. Most of all, I realized I enjoy sharing my story and knowledge with future students through volunteering at Open House events, and especially enjoyed the Women in Skilled Trades Mixers. There are few women in the trades; at my place of employment there are currently only two female apprentices. It was great to hear stories from other women in trades and to be able to ask them questions about their experiences and journeys.”

Image, opposite: Tricia, Laura and Kira, Camosun College students, posing at HeroWork Victoria Radical Renovation Image, above: Amanda, a Conestoga College student, posing with her plumbing work (Credit: Conestoga College)




William Electrical Engineering Technician Durham College

“As a recipient of the Weston Family Scholarship, I have been granted many opportunities to better myself and receive a far more impactful education. The scholarship has alleviated many stresses that one may encounter while attending college, not only just the financial stresses. It has also opened many doors to network with community leaders and local companies through volunteer opportunities. Being a mature student, deciding to attend college was a very difficult choice to make, as the financial requirement was daunting. When I was told about the Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program, I became very intrigued and hopeful. Upon receiving notice that I was accepted, I felt a large weight lift off my shoulders. In my eyes, it was a saving grace for me. I had assumed that the sole benefit I would receive from this was financial. I became pleasantly surprised when I realized I was drastically incorrect. This bursary has helped me become a leader in my college community, which has had an immeasurable impact on my personal and college life. The opportunity to give back to the college in any way I can has created an immense feeling of accomplishment. One of the opportunities that I have been able to receive was being the Team Leader for the recipients of the Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades. I have been working hands-on with Jana, the Weston Family Scholarship Project Lead, and facilitating communications between Jana and the Weston Family Scholars. I have issued regular communications via a newsletter. This newsletter is utilized as a constant update regarding upcoming volunteer opportunities, community events and potential professional growth. I sincerely appreciate each and every opportunity that this scholarship has and will continue to afford me. This has been a great beneficial learning experience for me and I would strongly recommend future students apply for this potentially life-changing program.”

Image, above: William volunteering at a Durham College Open House. Image, opposite: A Durham college student showcasing the Weston Family Scholar apparel


Weston Family Scholarship in the Skilled Trades Program



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