Skills Canada’s Try-a-Trade® program adds take-out to the menu

Syncrude would not exist without thousands of skilled trade workers who’ve built the company into what it is today.

To continue attracting a young, diverse workforce, Syncrude supports organizations and programs that educate students about career opportunities in the trades.

One such organization is Skills Canada Alberta, which attracts 10,000 high school students to its annual Provincial Skills Competition and Try-A-Trade®, a tradeshow where students can try different trades-associated projects at booths hosted by businesses.

When COVID-19 caused the cancellation of the 2020 Skills Competition, Amy Matthews, Partnership Coordinator with Skills, knew there was a gap to be filled. “What we heard from teachers was students were missing the hands-on approach. On top of that, Zoom fatigue was setting in, so we knew we didn’t want to do something online,” says Amy.

Skills Heavy Hauler: Syncrude’s Try-a-Trade® Hydraulic Electric Heavy Hauler fully assembled

Try-A-Trade® Take-out was created for the 2020-21 school year, with the support of partners such as Syncrude. Teachers could order free project kits online, giving students the chance to test-drive careers and learn new skills. Each Try-A-Trade® Take-out kit includes the necessary materials to complete an activity, instructions and tutorial videos where needed.

Syncrude’s Hydraulic Electric Heavy Hauler Kit was a huge hit, with all 200 kits ordered within two hours from all across Alberta. From Lethbridge to Janvier, students have been working together, building heavy hauler trucks modelled after the ones rumbling down haul roads at Mildred Lake and Aurora.

Jessica Lynch, Instrument Technician, Hydrotreaters, attended Try-A-Trade® before starting her career with Syncrude.

I attended the event when I was in high school. It inspired me to learn more about trades and ultimately pursue my career

– Jessica Lynch

Six years later, when Jessica was asked to develop Syncrude’s Try-A-Trade® Takeout kit, she jumped at the opportunity. “Myself and colleagues Dwight Flett, Team Leader – Maintenance, ML Trucks and Benoit Daigneault, Heavy Duty Mechanic, ML Trucks, were asked to come up with a hands-on project students could build together, while learning about trades.”

After taking the time to seek knowledge and understanding of the request, Jessica, Dwight and Benoit collaborated to create the heavy hauler truck prototype. “It represents Syncrude as a whole. It provides students with the ability learn about electrical circuitry and hydraulics while working together to build the truck,” Dwight says. Instructions, complete with a how-to video, were also provided by Syncrude’s employees

Based on the feedback received, the program proved to be a success. “Teachers are raving. One even told me that their students didn’t want to break for recess, they were enjoying the project so much. We’re thrilled to have had the support from partners such as Syncrude to make this program possible,” says Amy.

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