Plant, job site tours helps students connect in-class learning with professional applications

Originally posted: October 25, 2018

It is still the early stages of their education, but for MITT YouthBuild students opportunities for first-hand exposure to the types of careers and work environments that await them upon graduation can’t come soon—or often!—enough.

Creating these industry connections for participants throughout their 10-month program is the goal of industry tours like the ones that took place in partnership with Lafarge Concrete and Access Framing Inc. here in Winnipeg last week.

“The benefits of having students participate in immersive experiences are endless,” says Rhonda Taylor, Acting Manager, MITT YouthBuild. “First and foremost it takes the learning outside the classroom.  It’s one thing to talk about the work from a hypothetical standpoint; it’s quite another to see the work and the environment first hand . . . to see it in action, to hear it, to feel it.  It’s also a great opportunity for students to hear from industry folks directly, to have their questions answered first-hand by experts in the field they are training for.”

The day began at Lafarge, where students saw the various opportunities carpenters can find in its precast division, as well as some cool tools of the trade—like the Hawkeye machine—they’d get to work with.

“Depending on how busy we are and what type of work the precast division gets, there may be 30 to 35 carpenters working here,” says Erin Anseeuw, Sales Manager of Lafarge’s pipe division. “I think it’s very important to supplement in-class learning with site tours so students see how the information they learn in class is applied in the work environment.  It also gives students a chance to picture themselves in that work environment to see if it’s something they can see themselves doing as a career.”

In contrast to Lafarge, with 6,000 employees and 350 sites across Canada, students also spent time on a job site with a smaller local construction company—southeast Manitoba-based Access Framing Inc. Led by father-son duo George and Joe Froese, Access Framing Inc. took on two MITT YouthBuild students for their work practicums last year: Tuesday Woodhouse, 2018 Valedictorian, and Patrick Ross, pictured below last spring with George Froese and Carpentry Level 1 instructor, Jim Huntrods.

“One of the most impressive things I took away from our visit with George and Joe is the speed at which they complete their houses,” says Exploration to Trades instructor, Tristan Shumaker. “They are completely framed and windows installed typically within two five-day weeks.”

MITT YouthBuild is always looking for new opportunities to tour employers’ facilities or active job sites because, according to Taylor, they provide an ideal complement to the learning taking place in the classroom and shop.  

“To be effective, our learning environment needs a healthy balance of class time, hands-on training, and work or learning in the community,” she says. “Opportunities like the ones we shared today do so much to enhance our students’ learning experience—we can’t thank our industry partners enough.”

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