Selkirk College Welding Program instructor Bruce Davis’s passion for his trade is obvious when he starts talking about his early days as a student at Nelson’s Silver King Campus.
“I always strive to be better,” the 34-year-old says. “The second I laid my first [welding] bead, I thought ‘that’s not very good, I want to make it better.’ When you take pride in what you do, it helps make the entire process a lot more enjoyable.”
Selkirk College will open its doors to future students at the November 27 Made For Trades day at Nelson’s Silver King Campus. In the Welding Program shop, current students will be helping run the high school participants through hands-on exercises. Taking part in the introduction will be (L-R) student Sebastian Sullivan, student Jorrin McIver, Welding Program instructor Bruce Davis and student Sara Sohm.
After graduating from Stanley Humphries Secondary in Castlegar, moved from job to job across Canada for five years and then moved to Kelowna where he worked as a saw operator. When a friend told him about his work as a welder and the kind of money he was earning, Davis started saving for a return to school. In 2003, he returned home and took the Welding Foundation Program at Selkirk College.
“Other than the money, the first thing I realized is that this is enjoyable way to make a living,” says Davis. “It’s fun and interesting, you are not sitting behind a desk. You are building something with your hands and that’s very fulfilling.”
After completing the program at the Silver King Campus, Davis moved to the Edmonton area. While working an entry-level position at Enerflex, his talents were recognized and the energy industry supplier paid to have him complete his Red Seal journeyperson ticket at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). After working for Enerflex for five years, Davis once again returned to his roots in the West Kootenay.
Last January, Davis was hired by Selkirk College to teach in the shops where he first made sparks fly.
“I always loved the schooling aspect of it,” he says. “When I was working at Enerflex, they would have me help train the new welders which I found quite enjoyable. Getting to teach people how to weld is an amazing job.”
Pointing High School Students Towards Trades
Twice a year, Selkirk College introduces high school students to the various trades’ pathways through Made For Trades. On Friday, November 27 students from high schools across the West Kootenay-Boundary will descend on the Silver King Campus to take a closer look at Welding, Metal Fabrication, Heavy Mechanics, Millwright/Machinist, Fine Woodworking, Carpentry, Electrical, Hairdressing and Esthetics.
“The best way to get students enthusiastic about their potential options is to show them what goes on in the shops,” says Selkirk College Recruitment Specialist Aimie Chernoff. “It’s always a great day for both the high school students and the college staff who open their shops to young people who are eager to find out more.”
Heavy Mechanics Instructor Andy Gullen is one member of the Selkirk College trades who will be opening up his shop at the Silver King Campus.
At this year’s Made For Trades, several current Selkirk College students will be working with instructors to run the high school participants through hands-on lessons that will introduce basic elements of the programs.
“I’m excited to help,” says Welding Program student Jorrin McIver. “A lot of high school students might be intimidated with the shop experience and I want to show them that once you know your general safety, it’s a fun place to be.”
Jorrin is one of several trades students who has entered Selkirk College through the provincial government’s ACE IT Program (Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training). In partnership with local school districts, students who successfully complete the ACE IT program earn credit toward both high school graduation and a post-secondary credential.
“I will graduate from high school having completed the Welding Foundation Program and then I can get a job a lot faster,” says Jorrin, who will complete his training at Selkirk College before he graduates from Grand Forks Secondary School. “It’s great because you don’t have to wait until after the summer to start college.”
Sara Sohm spent her Grade 12 year in the ACE IT program in her home of Kitimat where she took the Millwright/Machinist Program at Northwest Community College. Deciding that welding was more of an interest, this September she moved to Nelson to build on her education at the Silver King Campus.
“It’s so nice for your Grade 12 year to be mostly doing shop work, it’s not sitting in a classroom for eight hours a day,” says Sohm, who will also be a student instructor at Made For Trades.
Davis is pleased to see the enthusiasm of his current students being channeled into helping inspire future students. He says the students that attend Made For Trades will leave with plenty to think about.
“The money aspect is huge for young people, but I want students to know that this is fun,” says Davis. “I hope they will be intrigued by welding and want to find out more. It’s a great trade and Selkirk College is the right place to get started.”