In the fall of 2012, the Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council (NSCSC) was in the process of moving from a small office in Bedford to a larger space in Ragged Lake Business Park, Halifax. With this new location came a large warehouse left empty by the previous tenants. Having all of this extra space was something new for us, and lead us to beg the question, “What are we going to do with it?” With the potential that the warehouse held, it wouldn’t have been right to leave it empty.
So after throwing many ideas back and forth, we had an “Ah-ha!” moment.
We had spent years travelling from career fair-to-career fair, educating Nova Scotians about the career options available in the construction industry. The only problem? It was becoming increasingly difficult to capture the audience’s attention with just brochures and handouts.
This lead to the conception of the Trades Exhibition Hall.
We would create a “discovery centre” of sorts for the construction industry. A place where visitors could actually experience the trades hands-on and speak with knowledgeable professionals, not just learn through second-hand accounts on a pamphlet. We pitched the idea to our industry partners and to government – both were very supportive.
After weeks of brainstorming and drafting concept drawings, the project started to come to life. The Hall would be divided into 14 interactive booths, each dedicated to a specific set of trades or occupations (bricklaying, electrical, carpentry, management, etc…). We wanted the Trades Exhibition Hall to simulate a live jobsite in order to offer the most authentic experience possible. From a safety orientation in the morning, to wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), we wanted visitors to truly experience what a day-in-the-life of a construction worker is like.
Fast forward to the spring of 2014, when we officially opened the doors of the Trades Exhibition Hall to the public. This was a very exciting day for us at the Sector Council. We had already received some interest in the Hall, but I don’t think that any of us could have anticipated what was to come.
Within the first month of operation, requests from high schools as far as Yarmouth and Cape Breton began streaming in. Word of mouth about the Trades Exhibition Hall had spread and teachers began to see value in bringing their high school and junior high students to explore the trades free of charge, thanks to support from industry and the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency.
Now more than a year later, we have had 35 schools (from eight school boards) visit the Trades Exhibition Hall. We have had visits from 14 community and career support organizations, as well. Both students and career seekers have been able to try their hand at the trades through hands-on activities. Whether they are laying bricks, cutting sheet metal, or using one of our state-of-the-art simulators, the feedback has been incredibly positive.
Making an impact on the lives of youth and adults from across the province has been very rewarding. If we can give someone a little bit of guidance and help set them down the right career path, in line with industry needs, than that is all we can ask for.
For anyone interested in checking out the Trades Exhibition Hall, we are hosting our 2nd Annual Trades Exhibition Hall Open House on Saturday, August 22, 2015 from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at 10 Ragged Lake Blvd, Unit 1, Halifax, NS. For more details, please visit www.nscsc.ca.