“Tradespeople with certificates are not born, they’re made.” So says Don Oborowsky, who has dedicated much of his career to advancing the trades and apprenticeship training in Alberta.
As president, CEO and co-founder of Edmonton-based Waiward Steel Fabricators, Oborowsky says that at any given time, 20 per cent of his 500-plus employees are apprentices. Qualified tradespeople, he says, require less supervision on the job, increase productivity and help make workplaces safer.
“The whole apprentice program is important, not only to me but to the whole industry. It plays a very important role in our whole economy.”
The need for more spaces to train apprentices to sustain the economy led Oborowsky to make a significant investment in establishing the NAIT Waiward Centre for Steel Technologies. The world-class facility opened in 2006, boosting NAIT’s steel trades training capacity by 60 per cent.
Interestingly, Oborowsky – already a successful businessman– returned to NAIT four decades after starting his Carpenter apprenticeship to complete his own training in 2007. He says he always felt “a little bit of guilt” about not completing his training.
“I finished it because I wanted to finish it.”
— Frank Landry