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Local industry titans pass on wisdom to Thorold Secondary students

Shop student Max Steele was awarded $1,000 from the Canadian Tooling and Machining Association; 'You got a ton of people pulling for you'

Industrial manufacturing business owners came together on Wednesday afternoon to share their wisdom with local shop students at Thorold Secondary School.

The afternoon figured into the DSBN’s apprenticeship program, which gives students the opportunity to acquire hands-on experience in the local manufacturing industry.

“It’s stuff you can’t teach in a classroom,” said Thorold Secondary shop teacher Grant Ten Den. “Because of partnerships, these kids get opportunities.”

Shop students shared pizza and pop as they asked the local business owners questions about the industry.

“We see a lot of people retiring and we need to infill with our young people because the industry is booming,” said Aaron Tisdelle, who is the president of Girotti Machine, and a board member of the Niagara Industrial Association. “Parents are the ones that are most afraid of their son or daughter not going to university but there’s a viable career in the trades. They don’t have to take on debt and they’re making money right out of high school.”

Jane Buunk, who owns Niagara Precision Limited, has been an avid supporter of the DSBN's apprenticeship program.

“When I noticed our workers were aging, that’s when I got more involved with the high schools,” she told ThoroldToday. “Now I’m very proud to say the average age in my shop is 32. It is amazing. The people that I’ve got now are going to take over for me one day. I do have a plan for the future and it is my employees.”

During Wednesday's event, Thorold Secondary student Max Steele was honoured with a $1,000 award from the Canadian Tooling and Machining Association (CTMA). 

Last summer, Steele completed a co-op at FBT in Port Weller. His supervisor Julian Teske was so impressed with Steele's work that he offered him a part-time job. After Steele graduates this year, FBT will support him in his goal of pursuing a career in the trades.

“He’s a great kid,” Teske told the gathered crowd. “It’s an honour to be helping him out and showing him the ropes. He is the eighth hire from this high school that we’ve had. He’s really smart, really inspiring. It’ll be really interesting to see where he goes with his skills.”

Future shop students at Thorold Secondary will also get the chance to further develop their skills, as the CTMA recently donated a new manufacturing machine worth around $80,000 to the school.

“You got a ton of people pulling for you,” Ten Den told his students at the end of the event. “Governments, associations, industries, family businesses — they’re really going out of their way to give you guys opportunities.”

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Bernard Lansbergen

About the Author: Bernard Lansbergen

Bernard was born and raised in Belgium but moved to Canada in 2012 and has lived in Niagara since 2020. Bernard loves telling people’s stories and wants to get to know those that make Thorold into the great place it is
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