Students in the Tech department of the Estevan Comprehensive School had a special guest on Wednesday, as Souris Moose Mountain MP Dr. Robert Kitchen toured the classrooms and facilities to take a look at how the next generation of workers are being prepared.
Accompanied by Principal Pat Jennot, and the teachers of the different trades, he examined the machining, welding, auto work, computer programming and drafting, and construction classrooms and workshops among others.
"This is tremendous, to see this school, the opportunities these students have, and the skill sets that they're learning from accomplished and knowledgeable staff," he said.
"It's tremendous to see the amount of money put into this. It's a huge issue, with the budget, but they are managing it, it's great to see."
An oft-brought-up topic with the MP was the need for skilled tradespeople in the near future.
"We need those people, we need that aspect, because that is our future. That innovation idea that people talk about, this is the foundation that gives them the knowledge on drafting, the knowledge of computers, the knowledge of photography, the knowledge of building, and taking that to the next step. I see this as just a tremendous asset for Estevan and for every community that provides this service."
"It all started from a Facebook post," said machining and welding instructor Mark Kroeker, who initiated the invitation.
"I saw he had visited a school in Montmartre and I decided that, as one does on Facebook, I would make a comment to our local MP and say, 'you should come check out ECS', and not really thinking anything would come of it. Lo and behold, he responded and said he'd love to come. After a few months of figuring out when would be the best time, here we are, showing him what we do at Tech-Ed at ECS. He's really interested in what we're doing here, and I really hope he can go out and tell everybody else what we do here, and brag about Estevan, because I'm really proud of what we do here."
"We always like to get some exposure, especially for Tech-Ed. It's a huge part of what we do here at Estevan Comp, and we really want to make sure we promote our area. Part of that is just getting out into the public, and showing. Sometimes people may not know exactly what it is we do here, so we want to show that off," he added.
"Right now, there's a really big need coming in the industry, the applied technologies and trades are becoming a huge area of need for employment. It's really important that we start pushing that even more with students now. Sometimes, it's looked upon as almost a second class job, but it really can provide a first class wage and a great life as a trades-person."
Kroeker and his fellow teacher's students from the Tech department at ECS go on receive rave reviews from their secondary education providers.
"We work really closly with Polytech in Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, and trying to stay current in what it is we're teaching, keeping up with the constant changes in industries, which can be tough but we do work really hard to stay on top of that, making sure that our students are the best that we can produce."
"I pride myself in producing some of the best students that they know," he concluded.