Future Building career expo in Ottawa attracts youth to the trades

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Students flocked to the EY Centre in Ottawa earlier this week to attend Future Building, a three-day career expo for students in grades 7-12, and for aboriginal youth, youth at risk, and adults in career transition.

The event saw more than 7,000 students to its 2018 iteration in Toronto. This year, exhibits from more than 20 skilled construction trades captivated attendees from May 14 to 16 with interactive displays and answers to questions about what it’s really like to work in construction.

This year’s program was expected to attract more than 6,000 visitors, said Jim Wright, the Ontario Construction Secretariat’s (OCS) project and communications co-ordinator.

The exhibition’s core mission is to attract youth to the trades, by telling them about the career choices, job availability, job satisfaction, and training requirements for getting into the business.

Future Building is a project of the OCS, a joint-labour association created to represent the collective interests of the unionized construction industry in Ontario’s industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) construction sector. OCS has held the event annually since 2001 at different communities throughout Ontario.

Testimonials on Future Building’s website rave about the interactive nature of the exhibitions.

“I think maybe a spark or two towards a career in the trades may have been set today by the looks on their faces as they participated in the different exhibits,” said one testimonial, written by Bruce MacPherson, a math and science teacher at Dr. Davey School in Hamilton.

“Two hours in Hamilton accomplished so much more than students can gleen from books or websites,” wrote Beth Lougheed, principal J. L. Mitchener Public School in Cayuga.

Several school buses were parked outside the EY Centre  on the first day of the Ottawa event on May 14, as classes explored the exhibits and tried their hands at different construction related careers.

Wright said it is difficult to estimate the actual number of students who move towares construction careers because the program attracts students starting at Grade 7, and so there are many years of schooling between the introduction and possible start of apprenticeships.

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