Sunday, October 17, 2021

AarKel teams up with WDSS students


A tool and die company in Wallaceburg was looking to engage with the youth at Wallaceburg District Secondary School… and to also get their advice.

Tom Peel, a teacher at WDSS, said a group of about 15 Grade 11 and 12 students in the specialist high skills major program have been engaging with employees at AarKel.

“We have five sectors at the school in business, manufacturing, environment, art and culture and health and wellness,” Peel said.

“Right now the latest and greatest that we are trying to pilot here is a connection with those high skills major students in the real world. We’re trying to make a connection with the classroom and our community partners, like AarKel.”

Peel said the Wallaceburg company let the school know about their concerns with an aging labour force.

“They really are working hard to try and train young people in different areas in welding, machining, general maintenance, millwright,” Peel said. “They really want to try and keep young people in our community. They really want to touch base with the young kids. They came to us asking what they could do. They wanted to offer some bursaries, scholarship money, opportunities for kids to be involved in co-op.”

Peel added: “Through the high skilled majors program there is this ICE development that has come to be over the last couple years. It’s a program, Innovation Creativity Entrepreneurship, it’s involving community partners where they propose a challenge to our students.”

Dennis Alexander and Kevin Vandamme of AarKel.

Kevin Vandamme, business development manager at AarKel, said there is a shortage of young people entering the tool and die industry.

“We thought it would be a good idea to get AarKel branded one way, so the kids know who we are and that the trade is an excellent place to have a career for a lifetime,” Vandamme told the Sydenham Current.

“Getting involved with the young people is where we think we need to be and give them that incentive to join the trade and we’ll see them in five years.”

Peel said the kids took a tour of AarKel in the middle of April.

“At the conclusion of the tour they said they’ve got this concern utilizing this magnet system to hold their steel,” Peel said.

“They said ‘we’ve been having some problems, we’ve lost a little bit of money, can you kids think of something that we could do differently.’ This is a challenge educators always have is to find the connection between the classroom and the real world. This is no better connection, this is the real world.”

Peel said last week a crew from AarKel answered some questions from the WDSS students inside the lecture theatre at the school, where they worked on some problem solving, some design, and some model creation to showcase their ideas.

Dennis Alexander, operations manager at AarKel, said he was impressed and surprised by some of the students’ questions.

“It had me excited knowing that we’re going to be seeing some of these in five years,” he said.

When the students came in for the tour, “we showed the actual applications of us cutting a block of steel and some of the conditions we get into and the problems that we have.

“We went down some roads and to give them some ideas to get a mindset going on it. It worked very well, even there they had some questions and ended up getting even more question here,” Alexander said.

For more information about AarKel, visit their website here:

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