For the third year the Lloydminster Construction Association is helping put on the try-a-trade expo, hoping to spread the word of the value and potential of a career in the trades.

The expo and career fair is aimed at showcasing the types of jobs available and the kind of training it takes to get there.

“It’s to generate interest with youth that are considering future career options,” said Kevin Bender, an industrial arts teacher at Holy Rosary High School. “It gives them a little bit of exposure of the trades available in Lloydminster.”

Bender added it is also a chance for businesses to raise their profile and get youth in the community interested in them.

Lloydminster has a huge need for skilled labourers and tradespersons with low unemployment and the prospect of another worker shortage.

Last year about 2,100 students registered to go to the try-a-trade expo, and this year organizers are hoping for similar numbers. In 2010 1,300 high school students registered.

“Kids see the value in the trades and how rewarding it is to work with their hands and produce something,” said Bender.

This year’s expo will feature 51 designated trades in seven industries. The two-day event is scheduled for May 1 and 2 this year. The keynote speaker will be HGTV’s Bryan Baeumler.

Students who are considering going to university are also being encouraged to take a pre-apprenticeship program so while they are studying they can make good wages to support themselves.

“Try-a-trade program excites them (students) to see all the opportunities,” said Bender. “They aren’t aware of the opportunities so when they go to the try-a-trade and they can lay bricks, put plaster on a wall and use a Hilti Nailer. It shows there are options out there.”

Another way the local trades are being promoted within the community is the Skills Canada competitions. It starts with regionals, in Vermilion at Lakeland College this year, where students compete in various trades. From there the first and second place winners in each category goes on to provincials in Edmonton. From their first place winners compete in Nationals, which also happens in Edmonton this year.

“Skills Canada has a positive impact even with the students who aren’t competing,” said Bender. “It’s almost a status thing to compete. Within our high school we had students compete for the regional spots.”

Bender was enthusiastic about the fact several students wanted to compete so much that they had to compete to earn their way there. He said it was a testament to the positive impact of the competitive spirit.

“We’ve noticed enrolment has grown a lot,” said Bender. “We’re trying to meet the need, we’re looking at options to involve as many students as possible. Our goal now is to expose the program to as many students as possible.”

As an industrial arts teacher in Bender said he has seen the kind of positive impact skilled labour and trades work can have on young students.

“A lot of students just come alive,” said Bender. “You see them when they’re 15 or 16 working with their hands, working with wood, metal or in the electrical trades and they realize they can build something. It is very rewarding, and they see what they’re doing is valuable.”