A class of Lake City Secondary Williams Lake Campus students got the chance to get an inside look at the lumber industry first hand at the Toosey Old School Mill.
This visit is a part of carpentry and shop teacher Andrew Hutchinson’s ongoing efforts to inspire a love of woodworking and the trades within his students. A 12 year veteran of teaching, Hutchinson said he feels it’s important to increase awareness of the trades and what they can potentially offer the youth of today.
Hutchinson made the visit happen by contacting Craig Kennedy of Toosey Old School Wood Products to request a tour, which he was more than happy to provide. While the lumber industry may seem to be “tanking,” Hutchinson said he thinks that Kennedy and others like him are finding new opportunities for their employees. This type of ingenuity and can-do spirit is another thing he wanted to show his students.
All told, around 35 students from Grades 10, 11 and 12 spent their Thursday morning out at the mill, Hutchinson said. Kennedy showed them around to the milling machines, the kilns, planer and other interesting parts of the mill while explaining how it all connects and works together.
“We’re trying to get kids more into trades because they can earn while they learn. On an apprenticeship, they earn money while they learn their trade and I think there is huge demand (in the industry) because we can’t keep up with retirements,” Hutchinson said. “People are retiring and we need to have that young force to take their places.”
For some students that are like himself, Hutchinson said he feels it’s more valuable to go straight into a trade after high school rather than college or university. It leads to a profession far easier and can be both fulfilling and lucrative.
Overall, he feels the students took a lot away from the visit, especially when it came to rethinking how stumpage rates work, which Kennedy explained. They were also able to see thing Hutchinson could never show them in his shop all while wearing proper PPE.
He encourages any students interested in pursuing a career in the trades to sign up for their Grade 12 Youth Train Trades Program that is done in partnership with TRU and allows them to get practical hands-on experience.