It was a busy day down at St. Peter’s College in Muenster on October 5, as it held its annual Opportunities Edge event. 

Employers and Post-secondary institutions gathered to meet and connect with students soon to graduate High-School. 

“Opportunities Edge 2022 has been excellent. We have a full house with 40 exhibitors and at least 285 students that have registered, but more people and students from the public have come,” says Student Services Officer Kayla Benoit. “It's an excellent opportunity to find career options for you, as well as post-secondary options in Saskatchewan, and we are just here today to show everyone that dreams start local.”

The response to the event was excellent, with Benoit saying the student response was overwhelming. 

“We’ve had a lot of people running around our halls, learning about the opportunities available for them. There are a lot of local students interested in St. Peter’s College, but also other affiliated Colleges and Universities in the area. A lot of information sharing, lots of productivity, and hopefully we can get lots of people in our seats this coming year and grow our student base.”

The day is just as important for the presenters who come from far and wide. Some, like Bryan Braun of Pattison Agriculture are in the market for ag-interested students looking to join the workforce in their outlets, including the newly expanded facility opening soon east of Humboldt. 

“We’re always looking for good people, and that is the backbone of the Jim Pattison organization,” says Bryan Braun, human capital manager for 18 Pattison Agriculture outlets. “Right now, we certainly have a number of openings across our company. There is a definite shortage of service technicians. Territory managers as sales force is a secondary one, and a third would be dealing with the technology in our intelligent solution area of our company.” 

As farming has become more technologically advanced and data driven, the need for those adept in working with and translating information gathered has become critical, Braun explains.

For some post-secondary institutions who come from further afield, like the University of Lethbridge, Opportunities Edge is important for exposure about their school, its climate and its unique programming options.

“We’re a city of 100,000, but we have a lot of things that make Lethbridge feel like it’s a small town,” explains Royal Adkin with the University. “It’s a 15 minute drive to anywhere, we have a ton of green space, and as for the university itself, we have over 150 programs.” 

Among the programming is a heavy concentration on cutting edge science, operating out of the University’s Science Commons which was completed in 2019. The unit houses facilities using the latest equipment to support diagnostics and leading research in areas such as neurophysiology.  

“We have three nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopes (NMRs), like big MRIs where we can study biotissue samples, and we have one of the coldest places on earth,” Adkin says. “Dr. David Naylor has a freezer he can get down to 0.4 Kelvin which is next to Absolute Zero. It’s an amazing science facility.”

Agencies like the Saskatchewan Apprentice and Trade Certification Commission relish the opportunity to connect with youth through experiential programs like its Saskatchewan Youth Apprenticeship (SYA) Program. It’s a hands-on project that attracts young people, particularly from non-traditional avenues, to think about a career in trades. The way those young people are thinking about trades is changing, says Samantha Kitzul, SYA program manager.

“One of the things that we’re noticing is that our Indigenous apprentice numbers are higher than with the workforce in the general population. It signifies that a shift is happening. Students are challenging stereotypes where we’re seeing more female students pursue more non-traditional skilled trades. They’re not just going into hairstyling - we’re seeing a lot more electricians and carpenters. That’s being challenged by this generation.”

Employers and post-secondary institutions were glad to get back to a face-to-face format once again, and they look forward to next year. Opportunities Edge was a great success for all parties attending, and the hope is students walked away with more knowledge about their future endeavours.