Welding Students Heading Helmet First Into the Workforce
October 8, 2021

Curiosity is what sparked Star Houle’s interest in welding after attending a trades camp that featured firefighting, carpentry and welding. “I picked up the welding quite quickly, and was surprised how much I liked it – but then the camp ended so I didn’t think of it again”.

Star smiling at camera in her welding gear

Star Houle is in the Welder Pre-Apprenticeship Program at Portage College that gives students technical training in welding and fabrication as well as employment skills when looking for work.

After the trades camp, it was Star’s mom who saw the program advertised, “My mom encouraged me to try it and I’m glad because once I was accepted there was academic upgrading, computer training and we were in the welding lab within the first few weeks. There is a lot of information to retain, but I’m learning as I go and having a lot of fun”.

The Welder Pre-Apprenticeship Program is being delivered through a partnership with Ontario-based Conestoga College and the Government of Canada. The goal is to develop tradespeople through tuition-free programming.

“We are thrilled to be trialing this pre-apprenticeship model of trades training at Portage College”, said Don Moore, Interim Dean at Portage College. “This model ensures our students have the academic and employment skills to enter the welding trade prior to their trades training, and with our talented instructor George Berland providing his expertise, our students are ready to begin their Welding careers”.

Welding students
Front row left to right Tyson Aubin, Lawrence Alook, Brandon Cardinal and Kurtis Patey Brown. Middle row Josh Lee, Lane Crookedneck, Star Houle and Robin Lapratt. Back row Jayshauna Larose, George Berland and Aaron Thompson

Star and her classmates in the Welder Pre-Apprenticeship Program completed their Academic Upgrading portion in the spring, developing their employment skills and preparatory classes in Trades Math. Now finishing their Period 1 equivalency training, students are preparing to enter the workplace with an 8-week industry placement.

Star is ready, ”I want to build things like tables, chairs and large structures using aluminum and steel. There will be challenges, but if you put your mind to it, you can do it.”

Star welding in class
Star Houle Welding

For more information contact
Michele McDougall

We acknowledge that Portage College’s service region is on the traditional lands of First Nation Peoples, the owners of Treaty 6, 8 and 10, which are also homelands to the Métis people. We honour the history and culture of all people who first lived and gathered in these lands.
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