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Successful skilled trades Energy Co-op pilot concludes, with plans to expand

Program has resulted in new learning, job offers and future skilled trade co-op positions

Earlier this year, 25 high school students from Kincardine District Senior School (KDSS) began their clean energy journeys. And this past Friday, those students showcased all they’ve learned and experienced throughout the pilot NII Explore Energy Co-op.

 

This unique Co-op is a specialized 17-week education program in partnership with KDSS and the Bluewater District School Board. Different than a normal co-op, where one student is placed with one employer, this pilot exposes students to nearly 30 different careers across the clean energy industry.

 

Construction. Welding. Emergency management. Robotics. Scaffolding. And so much more.

“With the clean energy sector’s jobs growing faster than the national average over the next decade, the skills these students have explored during the program are in demand for companies throughout our region,” said NII Explore President Phillip Craig. “The Co-op is truly a homegrown solution to changing labour force needs.”

And as a result of this program, the Co-op students are now in demand as well! Students have gained internships and summer jobs with companies they worked with during the Co-op—not to mention the overall experiences, hands-on learning, and networking opportunities they gained throughout the past several months.

 

Delilah, for example, is a grade 11 student interested in the trades but wasn’t sure if it was the right path for her. After gaining hands-on experience with both MIG and stick welding from inspiring women instructor role models, Delilah discovered her passion for welding and confirmed her desire to pursue it as a career.

 

“This week really solidified that this is what I want to do—I got a lot of experience,” said Delilah.

Reflecting on a successful NII Explore Energy Co-op at the student showcase event. (back row L-R) Mike Rencheck, President & CEO, Bruce Power; Phillip Craig, President, NII Explore; Dan Kraft, Training Coordinator, UBC Local 2222; (front row L-R) Keith Lefebvre, Superintendent of Education, Bluewater District School Board; Jessica Linthorne, Interim CEO, Nuclear Innovation Institute; Sarah Spragg, Program Design and Delivery Specialist, NII Explore.
Reflecting on a successful NII Explore Energy Co-op at the student showcase event. (back row L-R) Mike Rencheck, President & CEO, Bruce Power; Phillip Craig, President, NII Explore; Dan Kraft, Training Coordinator, UBC Local 2222; (front row L-R) Keith Lefebvre, Superintendent of Education, Bluewater District School Board; Jessica Linthorne, Interim CEO, Nuclear Innovation Institute; Sarah Spragg, Program Design and Delivery Specialist, NII Explore.

 

“We are thrilled to have been able to offer this fantastic career pathway opportunity to our first group of students enrolled in the new Energy Specialist High Skills Major program recently added at Kincardine District Senior School,” said Keith Lefebvre, Superintendent of Education for Bluewater District School Board.


He added: “Students have expressed their excitement about learning of the many opportunities in the energy field. Our thanks to our partners at NII Explore, UBC Local 2222, and all the local employers whose generous commitment to this initiative has helped to pave the way for a broad range of rewarding jobs and careers for our students in the energy and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.”

NII Explore looks forward to continuing the work this pilot program has begun—next year, the Co-op will double in size, running in both the fall and winter terms at the NII Advance Technology Campus near Tiverton.

But none of this would be possible without support, says Phillip: “We are grateful to all those who committed their time and expertise to the Co-op—partners across the energy sector, our local communities, the school board, and the Nuclear Innovation Institute’s Founding Members.”

The inaugural class of the successful NII Explore Energy Co-op.

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