Building careers in construction – mentors required for the next generation and beyond

Posted: December 11, 2023

Reading time: 4 minute(s)
High school students from Portage Collegiate in the Portage la Prairie School Division gained hands-on experience from plumbers and pipefitters

High school students from Portage Collegiate in the Portage la Prairie School Division travelled to Winnipeg in Feb. 2023 to check out the Piping Industry Technical College (PITC) Local 254. They gained hands-on experience from plumbers and pipefitters who shared what this skilled trade is all about.

There can often be a preconceived notion that current students don’t have the refined work ethic needed to take a step into a career, a notion that is typically misplaced.

Blair Hordeski, the Career Development Coordinator for Portage la Prairie School Division, knows this and believes in the students he sees putting the work into their career paths.

“The best thing about my position is breaking down those barriers between industry and schools,” Hordeski explained. “Kids these days can get a bad rap, but there are so many students who want to work and are doing great at it.”

Many of these students are finding their success thanks to the supports provided by the school division to help them get inspired.

One of the pillars of this inspiration is found in the importance of industry speakers, who often provide that spark to young professionals looking to jumpstart a career.

“We need experts to come out and tell these students what it’s like to go to work in their field every day,” he said. “Community workers, people with their Red Seal, we try to tap into the expertise to get students on board.”

James Murphy, Community and Youth Liaison for the Manitoba Construction Safety Council has spent time in schools as a speaker and knows the importance of making that connection.

“It’s just so important to make that effort to be there,” Murphy said. “You’re giving these students a chance to hear from the people themselves and put a face to the job.”

***MUST SEE! Watch how MCSC’s Intro to Construction Skilled Occupations and Trades Training Program connects youth to mentors***

Through these opportunities, Murphy was thrilled to get the chance to help promote these opportunities to people who wouldn’t otherwise get the chance. Now, he wants to make sure those opportunities continue with the help of more speakers from their respective industries.

“If you have those years of experience, this is your opportunity to pass on that knowledge,” he said. “You can be that connection to help promote a strong workforce.”

Hordeski carries a similar belief, knowing what this means for students.

“We, as education, realized that we need to work together with industry and trades to help shrink that gap,” he explained. “Getting that direct connection is what helps that happen.”

These opportunities allow not only for information and knowledge to be passed on, but it also presents a unique situation that effectively brings students into an engaging conversation with someone who is happy to pass on what they know.

Bringing more experts into schools helps to create a better pattern of direction for many students, and it helps to feel closer to taking that next step. Many students look at the jump from education to career as daunting, but seeing what their path could look like may ease the stress.

“This is going to help students and young people in general make more informed decisions,” Murphy said. “When a student, looking to enter any occupation, has a chance to learn from a mentor, it’s inspiring for them.”

These speaking opportunities are often paired with apprenticeship programs and trades classes to better harness the passion that many of these students have for what they do.

“When you give these students a chance to learn from the source, we’re already seeing the successes of what can come from it,” Hordeski explained. “Young people are getting right into jobs and can immediately go right into training.”

It’s a gratifying thing to pass on accumulated knowledge, but it also empowers these students to take that leap without feeling like it’s hard to overcome.

“If you’re someone looking for a way to pass on what you know,” Hordeski said. “Reach out to divisions, approach development programs, and begin to build these partnerships. It does so much for the people you talk to.”

If you’d like to be a mentor in construction careers, reach out to James Murphy at



Building careers in construction – mentors required for the next generation and beyond


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