Trades keep stressing employability skills

January 27, 2009 by  

Welding students learn more than just technical skills at the Cloverdale campus. (Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison photo)

Welding students learn more than just technical skills at the Cloverdale campus. (Nathalie Hieberg-Harrison photo)

With the stock markets plummeting and job markets in disarray, Kwantlen’s trades and technology programs are marching to the same beat they always have.

“We’re doing what we’ve always done,” said Dana Goedbloed, dean of the trades and technology. “We’re stressing employability skills.”

Those skills, such as resumé writing, customer service and communication, are a vital part of every trade and technology department. The Cloverdale campus is home to 16 different programs, including appliance repair, plumbing and carpentry.

Gerard Valerty, an instructor with the 36-week farrier program, which teaches horse hoof care, including horseshoeing, said that although being skilled at your trade is a must, it isn’t what gets students jobs.

“When you rank skills that they need, customer service is way up here,” Valerty said, drawing an imaginary line at his shoulders, “and technical skills are way down here,” he said, pointing down to his knees.

The ferrier program runs a not-for-profit business, and Valerty expects his students to act professionally at all times. “Sometimes, I even leave the building and call here, just to make sure they’re answering the phone the right way,” he said.

Loc Hepburn a welding instructor, is teaching students training for one of the sectors that has seen a big downturn in employment opportunities. “Up until recently, quite a few of my students got jobs. But now, everything’s slowing down and it keeps getting slower and slower,” Hepburn said.

“I always make sure they have resumés and I go through them. I give them advice all through the course, and at the end we really ramp it up and make sure they have all those extra skills,” he added.

Although each program dedicates a portion of its time to helping students create resumés, practice their interviewing and communication skills, career counsellor Rick Hives is on-site to offer one-on-one support.


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