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Students connect with the trades at OPG career event

Close to 300 people, mostly young students in Grades 11 and 12, turned out at OPG’s Pickering Nuclear Information Centre to learn about exciting opportunities in skilled trades.

Students and their parents received valuable insight at the Connecting Youth to Trades Careers event on Tuesday, Sept. 24, as they heard first-hand stories from current OPG employees and apprentices about the work they do at OPG’s nuclear stations.

Close to 300 people, mostly young students in Grades 11 and 12, turned out for OPG's Connecting Youth to Trades Careers event.
Close to 300 people, mostly young students in Grades 11 and 12, turned out for OPG's Connecting Youth to Trades Careers event.

“This was an important event because a lot of kids aren’t exposed to trades or don’t understand how to enter trades,” said Diane Mackey, a Staffing Services Officer in OPG’s Talent Attraction division who helped organize the event. “Students and parents got a better understanding of the Certification and Qualification process that goes with entering a trade, and how OPG resources trades.”

Currently, there is a huge demand for skilled trades in the electricity industry, driven primarily by the Darlington Refurbishment project. By 2021, the half-way point of the project, the provincial demand for skilled workers will reach its peak.

“That makes events like these important to help interested students chart out a potential career in the trades,” said Mackey.

More than 40 representatives from various organizations were on hand for the evening affair. Among these were representatives from local union halls, Durham and Loyalist College, Durham District School Board, Skills Ontario, and Women in Nuclear. Also on hand were staff from the dive and drone teams from OPG’s Inspection and Reactor Innovation division, radiation protection, and maintenance control staff and mechanical technicians/apprentices from Pickering Nuclear Generating Station (GS).

Students received information on apprenticeships available at the high school level and learned about the staffing requirements of companies like OPG. They also got to try on diving equipment, viewed some of the high-tech drones on display, and experimented with a welding simulator.

OPG employee Dave Rogers, Manager of Plant Maintenance at Pickering Nuclear GS, shares his experience with students.
OPG employee Dave Rogers, Manager of Plant Maintenance at Pickering Nuclear GS, shares his experience with students.

Ryan Balroop, an Electrical and Control Technician at Pickering Nuclear GS, shared his career experiences with the parents and students. “I honestly think the kids walked away with a better understanding and knowledge of what’s needed to get into the trades,” he said.

Meanwhile, two female trades’ workers – a boilermaker and an iron worker – shared their thoughts on balancing their careers, and being on the road, with family life. They also spoke about the value of embracing different roles throughout one’s career. One is currently in human performance management and the other is in training for health and safety.

There were many young women in the audience, including a Grade 11 student who has found a co-op welding job and is interested in pursuing the trade in the future.

“The apprentices gave me a better understanding of the different skilled trades and what they actually mean in the working environment,” said attendee Terrence Ramkissoon.