Epic Jobs 2024 attracts record numbers

Epic Jobs 2024 attracts record numbers

Epic Jobs 2024 attracted a record-high 2,400 students, making it the largest Epic event in its 5-year history.

Grade 7 and 8 students from schools across the Grand Erie region spent hours at the event, held May 22, at Brantford’s Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre, taking over the floor of one rink and an outdoor parking lot.

“We saw a lot of happy smiles on the faces of students, which is proof in itself of what a hit Epic Jobs was,” said Danette Dalton, executive director of the Workforce Planning Board, the event’s main organizer.

“Students were excited and curious to learn about dozens of trades, meet tradespeople and try the many hands-on activities. Girls were just as interested as the boys, which is great to see because we need more women in the trades in the future.”

Students could try their hand at soldering pipe, operate a crane, strip electrical wire, use power tools, ride a scissor lift, and put on safety equipment used by hydro workers, construction workers and firefighters. Students could also see heavy equipment up close, including a $1-million piece of forestry equipment, participate in a construction skills competition or race around a police obstacle course. See photos on our Epic Jobs webpage.

Organizations that employ or train people who work in service-related jobs, from youth worker to hairstylists, also showcased what they do.

Community-minded sponsors & exhibitors

Dalton said Epic Jobs 2024 was made possible by the support and contributions of 60 partners, sponsors and exhibitors, all of whom had a shared goal to show what great opportunities there are in the trades and related careers.

“We’re very thankful for these community minded companies, trade unions, colleges and organizations for sharing what they do and what careers they offer,” she said. “These students can be working for them within the next five to 10 years.

Dalton also thanked the dozens of volunteers, some of whom were retired tradespeople, school board staff and employees at community agencies, for making the latest Epic Jobs the largest and most successful yet since it was first held in 2017.

Organizing partners were: Grand Erie District School Board, Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board, the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) operated by the school boards, Organized Kaos and the planning board.

Major sponsors were: Stelco, LiUNA Local 837, Ontario Power Generation, Grand Renewable Wind and Simply Electric.


“Stelco Lake Erie Works is located in Nanticoke and it is important for students and schools to know the various well-paying, secure jobs right in their community. A career in the trades can lead to growth opportunities in engineering, specialist roles and management. The competencies and transferrable skills you learn in trades can be used at home and work.”

– Erica Chow, Human Resources, Stelco


“LiUNA Local 837 supports events like Epic Jobs, because we feel it is important to support our local community partners and it gives us exposure as to who we are, what we do and why we do it. Liuna has been and always will be a place of opportunity. Helping others is one of many good things that LiUNA does for the community, youth and members of our union. Connecting to the community helps not only LiUNA grow, but helps the youth grow, which in return will better for our industry and future.”

– Nick Ciccone, Executive Board Member and Training Director, LiUNA! Local 837


“Ontario Power Generation recognizes the importance of showcasing the diverse opportunities in trades to young people. By sponsoring Epic Jobs, we aim to inspire students to pursue trades training, filling skill gaps while nurturing a skilled workforce for the future and supporting local businesses in southwest Ontario.”

– Nick Pender, Vice-President Niagara Operations, Ontario Power Generation


“We place great importance on supporting communities where we develop projects, operate facilities and have corporate offices.”

– Ashley Church-Crawford, Senior Site Logistics Coordinator, Grand Renewable Wind

Workforce Series – Interview with Caleb Haines

Workforce Series – Interview with Caleb Haines

In this week’s Workforce Series, where we share stories from local people who work in some of our region’s most important industries, we talk to Caleb Haines who is a licensed Automotive Service Technician for Bluestar Ford in Simcoe. He is also a mentor for Organized Kaos, a unique organization in Brantford that apprentices young people in life and the skilled trades by having youth work alongside established skilled trades persons.

While our new Work-Life Balance Study informed us “43% of local residents said they worked overtime everyday/couple times a week”, much of the automotive service industry works a standard 8am-5pm day, making it a good industry for those who want a clear separation of work and personal life.

In our feature, Caleb talks about how he benefited from an accelerated Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, the importance of dedicating time to training, the role his service manager played as a mentor and about living within your means.

Watch our interview with Caleb here: https://youtu.be/WYZbXBoNkMY


Some additional highlights from Caleb:

“I was very fortunate to have been able to take an Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program through Mohawk College in grade 12 of high school. I earned my level 1 while in school which made me able to get my license a year earlier than most. It accelerated my career and gave me the opportunity to buy my first house at a young age.”  

“I was also lucky to have a mentor to help me through my first few years of training and getting my license. He helped me to get off on the right foot in my career and navigate my apprenticeship training setting me up for success.”

On advice to young people – “Looking back, I would have taken all courses in high school seriously, including academic classes. Many skills come to be useful as a technician, or potentially transitioning your career to becoming a business owner.”

“In addition to being a licenced 310s Automotive Service Technician, I have a master technician certification from Ford. I wish I had focused on my specialty training earlier. Training is the key to your success – investing in all of the training you can do is well worth your time. Your pay will also often reflect the amount of training you have.”

“Within my current role and my pay plan (flat rate), I am able to make anywhere from $70, 000 to $100, 000 per year based solely on what I put into it. Automotive is a business that will never slow down, it’s only expanding and career security is massive!”

“To achieve good work-life balance, live within your means to reduce money stress. Give it your all while working, but schedule or plan free time for you – to leave any work stress behind and pursue hobbies.”

Thank you to Caleb for sharing his story with us! Stay tuned for next week, when we present another local story and industry!

Looking to explore a career or find a job? Check out Grand Erie Jobs – the biggest career and job site in our region!

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