With 91% of students successfully completing the Trades Careers Program this past year, TEPF (The Educational Partnership Foundation) hopes it will make a dent in the attrition
rate in the demand for skilled workers. To put it into perspective, that’s 155 students who have completed an introductory course in skilled trades as part of the high school
stream in the last 12 months.

Due to the awareness of the program and additional funding, this year’s numbers are significantly up from the 109 completions in 2021 and the 138 last year. Barb Simic, President and CEO of the Educational Partnership Foundation, beams saying “it is always amazing handing out that many completion certificates and seeing hopeful eyes for a future in some of these students.” Now, TEPF is working on the final piece of the puzzle. And that is finding willing contractors to bring these kids on into the apprenticeship stream.

“Some of these students have already struggled at their early age – either at home or at school, some financially, some who learn in non-traditional ways, and some have just been pushed aside. But most of these kids found their passion and place in our program, and now we need employers that see this talent and help make the students’ dreams a reality.”

The youth who complete our courses are more prepared for the first day on the jobsite than ever before. These local, young, and eager learners have jobsite credentials such as Telehandler, Mobile Elevated Work Platform, Fall Arrest and First Aid, which make them a more valuable first-day starter.

They also have had their first 250 hours or so completed in the trade, so they have first-hand knowledge which helps them in choosing this career path at age 17 or 18, rather than someone who “falls back” into the trade at age 27. The value of having a talented workforce who “choose” their career path versus “falling back” into it is an invaluable asset in fighting attrition rates.

To combat the challenges of replacing the skilled trades workforce who are retiring, TEPF will continue to work with its partners to supply a steady stream of local talent to industry to bring these young people into the apprenticeship stream. And Simic is hopeful that partnerships like the one TEPF has with GPMC can help open those doors.

This is the second year GPMC has provided funding toward the Trades Careers program and is the second largest contributor. Simic is thankful for the partnership and says “what TEPF does wouldn’t be possible without supporters of the Trades Careers program, like GPMC,” and adds “their contribution funds six classes a year, and this is a significant number of students we can provide the opportunity of educating in skilled trades.”