Grades 7 and 8 students at Ripley-Huron Community School got a first-hand look at the new Skills Opportunities Showcase (SOS) Trailer 2.0 that officially launched on Friday, Dec. 6. The SOS Trailer 2.0 aims to give youth in schools across Bruce and Grey Counties exposure to the skilled trades, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
The SOS Trailer 2.0 is the first-of-its-kind in Ontario and will showcase various skilled trade opportunities, including tire changing, heavy equipment, hair styling, welding, carpentry, culinary, masonry, electrical wiring, as well as various STEM learning tools and dexterity challenges.
“The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) is always looking for new ways for youth to explore the skilled trades. The SOS Trailer 2.0 brings hands-on activities from every sector right to Grades 7 and 8 students who are trying to decide what courses to take in high school,” said Dave Barrett, Coordinator/Facilitator for OYAP.
The OYAP hosts a number of events and competitions throughout the year. It also provides training so students can explore apprenticeship opportunities.
“We want to give students in Grades 7 and 8 a fun, interactive experience with the SOS Trailer 2.0 so they can pursue their STEM interest in secondary school, join a Specialist High Skills Major program, try a co-op placement, and potentially be the apprentice our local businesses are looking for in a few short years,” added Mr. Barrett.
The idea for a mobile learning lab dates back to 2009 when the Four County Labour Market Planning Board (FCLMPB) launched a similar initiative.
“We’re looking forward to launching an updated version of the trailer and continuing to collaborate with the school boards and other local partners to provide hands-on opportunities that enrich the educational experiences of our youth as they explore in-demand careers,” said Gemma Mendez-Smith, Executive Director for the FCLMPB.
The SOS Trailer 2.0 will visit schools across the Bluewater District School Board and Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board. The initiative is expected to reach more than 20,000 students in the area’s 50 elementary schools and 11 secondary schools.
It was funded through the collaborative efforts of the Township of Huron-Kinloss and the Municipality of South Bruce that each provided $12,500. In addition, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) contributed $50,000 through our Early Investments in Education and Skills (EIES) program. The EIES program supports education and skills training for residents of areas actively participating in Canada’s plan as a way to contribute to community well-being and capacity. The SOS Trailer 2.0 was purchased by the FCLMPB.
“At the NWMO, we are always looking for opportunities to promote the skilled trades and STEM education,” said Becky Smith, NWMO Regional Communications Manager. “Partnership is at the core of what we do, and we are thrilled to be participating with local school boards, the OYAP, the FCLMPB, along with Huron-Kinloss and South Bruce.”