On June 8, the Conestoga community gathered virtually to celebrate the annual Trades & Apprenticeship Awards. The event recognized outstanding student achievement in the motive power, construction and industrial trades.
This year, more than 230 awards valued at a combined $325,000 were presented. In opening remarks, Conestoga President John Tibbits passed along his gratitude to industry partners and donors for their support, which has resulted in more than $2.2 million in awards for skilled trades students since the event’s inception in 2010.
“Conestoga has long been committed to providing leadership in trades education, and strong industry and community partnerships support our efforts,” said President Tibbits through written remarks. “We’re very pleased to celebrate the achievements of the outstanding students who will be recognized this evening. We look forward to watching your progress and sharing in your future success.”
Dustin Leitch, a 2007 graduate of Conestoga’s Automotive Service Technician Apprenticeship program, delivered the keynote address. Leitch followed his passion for automotive repair, beginning his career with Toyota and obtaining his Master Technician Certification in 2009. In 2010, Leitch joined Tesla Inc., where he has worked in Canada, the United States and Asia in roles as a technician, service manager, and currently regional service manager. Leitch is a member of Conestoga’s Automotive Service Technician Program Advisory Committee, providing a pivotal link to industry needs and trends. In 2020, Leitch was presented with the college’s Alumni of Distinction award in recognition of his achievements and contributions to the industry and community.
“I think I have had a pretty successful career so far, so I just wanted to share a few things that have worked for me along the way,” said Leitch as he shared his journey in a trades-based career. “Do your best to be helpful -- as helpful as you can to whoever you can, whenever you can. If you have the opportunity to take risks, I recommend you do that. And finally, if you get into a bit of conflict on the way, assume positive intent. I think you will find that you will be able to resolve a lot of conflicts that way.”
Ontario has an urgent need for more skilled trades professionals to support industry competitiveness and growth. According to industry estimates, the province will need more than 100,000 new skilled tradespeople within the next decade to replace a retiring workforce and support new developments in areas such as housing and transit to meet the demands of a growing population.
To help address Ontario’s skilled labour shortage, Conestoga will open phase one of a comprehensive skilled trades training campus in Cambridge this fall. When fully realized, the state-of-the-art facility will modernize apprenticeship and skilled trades training through consolidation and expansion of the full complement of trades programs at a single location. The campus will be instrumental in Conestoga’s efforts to attract broader and more diverse students to trades-based careers.
Conestoga is a provincial leader in the delivery of trades and apprenticeship training to serve industry needs and the growing community. Comprehensive programming includes a wide range of programs that provide pathways to employment in skilled trades careers as well as pre-apprenticeship training and in-school training for apprentices.
For more information, visit the School of Trades & Apprenticeship.