At Alair, we are committed to encouraging and helping more youth to enter the trades. But even when trades training is an option, some high school students are unable to take part due to an often overlooked barrier. They can’t afford work boots to safely visit job sites or take part in on-site job training.

Boots to Build Program

Our Boots to Build program helps get boots and other safety equipment to teens so they can safely explore a career in trades.

We recently dropped off 24 pairs of work boots to the Chilliwack School District.  There are five secondary schools in the Chilliwack district that offer trades training programs and the boots will be distributed amongst them.

We are looking at students who might be underserved, who might not have access to tools and equipment readily available to them,” says Heather Elliott, the District Coordinator of A.D.S.T. & Career Transitions. “We provide that on a no questions asked basis. In addition to boots, we have things like safety googles and general construction type tools.”

Having this “boot library” gives students the opportunity to explore a career in trades without a large financial investment. Plus, it gives them a sense of fitting in when they arrive at the job site.

“This is such a generous donation for us. We are so pleased and thankful for the community support,” says Heather. 

Boots donated to Chilliwack School District

Community Partnerships

An initiative like this is often a group effort. We reached out Chilliwack’s Work N Play store to see if they would be interested in participating in Boots to Build. They, in turn, contacted some of their  suppliers, like the well-known brand Keen Footwear. The company donated a number of pairs of boots.

“It can be difficult to get things done on your own,” says Chris Klaassen, partner from Alair Abbotsford. “Building a house is obviously a large joint effort, involving many different people. So we are taking the same approach here. We can achieve a lot more when we work together.”

It Pays to Mentor 

When it comes to other ways to encourage more kids to explore this career path, providing opportunities to job shadow a trades person for a day goes a long way, says Sandi Lauzon, principal at CABE school in Coquiltam. (We recently donated a number of boots and work gloves to CABE’s trades program as well.)

“Sometimes all it takes is a day with a mentor, seeing the trade in action, for a young person to see themselves in that role. It can motivate them to attend school regularly and complete graduation requirements with a goal to enter trades training or to gain employment in the construction industry,” says Sandi.

“It’s about educating parents and families about all of the opportunities that the district does provide. And in a bigger picture piece, it’s about connecting with our community. And about understanding that there are employers right in our back yard that we can reach to and use for as work placement placement opportunities,” adds Heather. 

Other Ways to Make an Impact

There can be a number of additional constraints preventing students from exploring the trades. Transportation is one example. Sandi says bus ticket donations are always welcome and needed. But boot donations are a huge step in the right direction.

“The boots can be the catalyst for applying for the job and the reason they apply to trades programs. It’s all about exposing the kids to the possibilities and having them see role models doing the jobs that they can see themselves in,” says Sandi.

If you’re a business, a teacher, or a student who would like to learn more about our Boots to Build program, please get in touch!