Partners in Success: A Spotlight on Alex Duketow

An Excerpt from WELD (Summer 2020)

PARTNERS IN SUCCESS: A SPOTLIGHT ON CWB WELDING FOUNDATION CHAMPIONS – AN EXCERPT FROM WELD (SPRING 2020)

IN THIS ISSUE: ALEX DUKETOW

The Canadian welding industry is facing a critical shortage of welding professionals. The future of the industry depends on attracting young people to the trade, removing barriers for underrepresented groups to access pathways to training, and supporting their success. This effort is more than one organization can handle alone. That’s why the CWB Welding Foundation works with industry, education, government and other stakeholders to identify and pursue solutions. Our partners are essential to the work we do, and we deeply value their commitment, advocacy and leadership. In this special WELD feature, we will be profiling some of those partners who actively champion the Foundation’s mission.

Alex Duketow, Student Success Consultant

SHSM, SCWI, SIPI, Applied Technology Board Lead

Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington (PVNC) Catholic District School Board

 

Alex Duketow grew up in a manufacturing environment and obtained a Mechanical Engineering Degree with the University of Waterloo. He now works with the PVNC Catholic District School Board as a Student Success Consultant managing projects that help students discover their future pathway and supporting applied technology initiatives. Alex and his wife, Miriam, raise their children in Peterborough County, Ontario. Here he talks to Maria Hypponen, Communications Specialist with the CWB Welding Foundation, about the work he has been doing to encourage youth to explore welding.

-Excerpt-

Maria Hypponen: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. What got you on your career path?

Alex Duketow: My wife Miriam and I raise our children in a rural setting near Peterborough, Ontario. Our life at home is filled with instrumental music and hands-on work—both in the workshop and in the great outdoors. I grew up in a similar fashion north of Toronto working with my dad in his home-based workshop. He is a machinist and high-performance mechanic. Passing him tools turned into using tools on real jobs, which turned into doing some jobs on my own. My dad had me welding by the time I was 12 years old.

My upbringing resulted in me studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. After my engineering studies, I volunteered with a youth team that travelled across the country giving inspiring workshops to youth. The combination of engineering and youth work resulted in pursuing a career as a teacher. I have taught math, physics and cooperative education, and now I’m in my fifth year as a Student Success Consultant.

MH: What do you do as a Student Success Consultant?

AD: As Student Success Consultant, I coordinate experiences and programming to help inspire students to discover a pathway that excites them and drives them to succeed.

At our school board, I manage hands-on experiences for our grade 7/8 students, Dual Credit courses for our grade 11/12 students, as well as the 23 Specialist High Skills Major programs across our 6 high schools. Dual Credit courses are an innovative way for students to experience college by taking a college course embedded into a high school course. More than 30 per cent of our senior students take a Dual Credit and choose from a wide range of options including automotive, sheet metal fabrication, marketing, culinary and welding. Also, more than 30 per cent of our senior students choose

a Specialist High Skills Major focus. As they work toward graduation, they complete courses, industry certifications and a co-op placement to show that they have a passion in an industry sector like construction, manufacturing, health and wellness, hospitality and tourism, or agriculture.

Ultimately, my role is all about supporting the hard-working and talented staff who teach and guide our students each and every day. Supporting staff often includes helping with the purchase of new equipment for our technology labs and shops.

MH: How did you first get involved with the CWB Welding Foundation?

AD: Within the first year of my role I learned that there was a unanimous consensus across our high schools that upgrading our welding programming was a top priority. Our tech teachers were saying that, “Kids love to weld and Industry needs them.” It was clear that if I could help upgrade our welding shops, our staff would be willing to do their part to provide our students with quality training.

Early in my second year I was connected to Deborah Mates, the then Executive Director of the CWB Welding Foundation, through one of our principals. Deborah and I had a great discussion about the role of the Foundation, the developing vision of our school board, and how we can possibly work together. I could tell right away that the CWB Welding Foundation was going to be an amazing ally, and that by working together we were going to help many students receive quality welding education. Shortly thereafter, our Director Michael Nasello, the board’s senior team, and our facilities department responded 100% favourably to partnering with the CWB Welding Foundation to upgrade welding programming across our school board.

MH: Tell us a bit more about the initiatives you delivered in the past related to welding, and what you’re working on now.

AD: Our first practical action within our renewed welding education vision was teacher training. During the last week of June 2017, thirteen of our teachers and educational assistants did intensive MIG welding training. This was done in partnership with the CWB Welding Foundation and Fleming College in Peterborough, where the training took place. This was followed up by a June 2018 stick welding training session in our first completed

high school welding shop. We did an even more intensive set of training modules during the month of June 2019, which resulted in nine PVNC teachers earning two CWB tickets. We plan to continue further training.

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