Print Edition: March 21, 2012
This past Friday, Michelle Mungall, Advanced Education and Labour Market Critic for the NDP, visited various post-secondary institutions in the area escorted by Wyatt Scott, a vocal NDP member and UFV student. One of her stops was at UFV’s Trades and Technology Centre (TTC).
Mungall’s purpose for the visit was two-fold: first, to get a better understanding of what the TTC has to offer and, second, to have an open roundtable discussion with Trades students.
Mungall and Scott were given a personal tour of the TTC by dean of Trades John English.
With their first stop being the professional training kitchen, she spoke with a few culinary students. Then after some words, and the enjoyment of a delicious aroma, it was quickly off to the automotive shop – a massive training workspace. It was here that Mungall had a chat with one of the few female students around.
“To see her there with all the guys and being treated like an equal amongst her peers, it’s wonderful,” said Mungall.
Mungall commented “[Women are] 50 per cent of the population but only 18 per cent of the apprentices. For example, most women are concentrated in hair dressing, there’s a few more women in the culinary arts, a few more women in welding, but overall we are an incredible minority in the trades. And so, when I saw a few women in the automotive program, I thought, ‘that’s a great step forward’.”
Next up was the welding shop, then the carpentry shop, and finally the tour was wrapped up in the electrical shop where Mungall was given a few tips on wiring.
Overall, Mungall was quite impressed with what she saw.
“It was fantastic. It’s a really great opportunity for me to see what is going on in the campuses, in the classrooms, in the shops…”
And the personal touch of having English there wasn’t lost on Mungall. She mentioned it was “a really great opportunity then to be able to talk to the dean as we tour the school, and to see his perspective of what’s going on and the work he’s doing as the dean.”
As the tour concluded, Mungall and Scott then moved onto the student roundtable.
At the table were approximately 15 students from various programs, such as Hospitality and Tourism, Architectural Drafting, Automotive, Carpentry and Culinary Arts.
“I always think it’s important to hear from students about their top of mind issues and what their experiences are, and going to class and taking on apprenticeships here at the trades school,” Mungall said. “And so, what I was hoping to accomplish was just to hear from them and hear what was going on for them.”
And that’s what she did. One of the main topics was apprenticeships, and how some programs don’t offer them when maybe they could, such as in Architectural Drafting. Other things that came up were program improvements, such as how to address real-world work experience in the Drafting program.
How education is financed was a hot issue. While Mungall brought up some NDP initiatives such as the reintroduction of a needs-based grant and the possible elimination of student loan interest rates, students spoke on how they’re currently paying their way through their educations: student loans, working through the summer, and full and part-time work while attending to their courses.
But ultimately for issues that affect students, on top of contacting and speaking with politicians of any stripe, Mungall stressed that “young people need to have their voices heard in government. And the only way that’s going to happen is if they start voting.”