Plumbing students doing the hands-on portion of their training at the Herzing College campus
When Covid-19 hit Ontario and the lockdown began, schools and students faced some major challenges.
Programs that had never been delivered online suddenly shifted to virtual. Students who had never taken a single online class found themselves doing Zoom or GoToMeeting courses every day.
It’s been a bumpy transition for teachers, students, school staff and parents.
The challenge has been particularly hard for hands-on training programs like the skilled trades. How can you learn electrician or plumber skills online?
How can you get actual experience with tools and equipment via Zoom?
Herzing College has answered the challenge by developing a “hybrid” learning model for skilled trades students.
Using a mix of on-campus and online learning, our students have been able to complete their pre-apprenticeship programs, find employment, and get to work—despite the pandemic.
Curious about how the hybrid online learning system works? This week, we interviewed Chris Prespakis, the Education Director for Herzing College Skilled Trades.
He explains what to expect in training, how Herzing keeps students safe, and why now is an excellent time to begin your trades career.
Q: How does the hybrid online training work for skilled trades students?
Chris: Our skilled trades students are doing a combination of online and on-campus learning. We launched the hybrid program on September 1, when the government approved us to enrol new students.
It’s very simple. Students complete the theory portion of their training online. And then they come to campus to do their hands-on work. This way, students can get some of their courses done from home, and we minimize the number of people on campus.
For example, our Plumbing and Electrical students do 1-2 days a week of online classes. They come to the Herzing workshop 2-4 days a week for practical training with a licensed instructor.
The online classes are live (not pre-recorded) sessions. The instructor is there to answer questions and keep students on track. We use platforms like Zoom, Go-To Meetings, and Microsoft Teams.
Q: What Covid-19 safety measures are in place at the campus? Any reported infections so far?
Chris: To date, we haven’t had any reported cases of Covid-19 at our campuses. Herzing College is following all the government safety regulations for schools.
Every day students fill out a Covid-19 form as soon as they arrive on campus. We track who is in the school and whether anyone has symptoms. If there’s a red flag, the student cannot enter the building.
Also, the instructor checks each student’s temperature at the door. They can only enter if it falls within safe parameters.
In addition, we have a cleaning crew that comes in every night to sanitize the school. We use a hydrostatic sprayer on all the main walkways and surfaces.
And we provide students with disinfectant spray to sanitize tools and equipment after use.
We’re lucky because our Toronto campus is a huge 20,000 square-foot facility. So, there’s plenty of space to spread out!
And at the Cambridge campus, we’re careful to keep class sizes to a minimum, and practice social distancing whenever possible. Student safety is our highest priority.
Q: How are students responding to the new “hybrid” learning system?
Chris: Many of our students really appreciate being able to study from home a couple of days a week. It saves them time and money on transportation.
On the flip side, a lot of students say that coming into the shop for practical training is a nice break from being stuck at home. We’ve struck a good balance with the hybrid system.
Everyone is adjusting and adapting. This has become the new normal for us. At first, it was a challenging transition, but everything is rolling very smoothly now.
Q: Are all the trades programs open for enrolment now?
You can get your Gas Technician license without doing an apprenticeship, and there’s a ton of work out there. We already have a lot of graduates working successfully in the gas field.
Q: Is now a good time to start trades training? How is the industry doing?
Chris: The government is making a big push on the skilled trades right now. This industry hasn’t been impacted as harshly as many other fields during the pandemic.
Construction needs to keep happening. Roads and other infrastructure projects are still rolling. The government is investing in these projects, and continues to offer training grants to skilled trades students.
On the residential side, renovations and remodels are booming. People stuck at home are spending big on indoor and outdoor projects. They’re building home offices, home gyms, pools, finishing basements, and backyards.
Q: Are you holding online information sessions? How can people learn more about training?
Chris: All of our Admissions staff are holding information sessions and advising appointments online.
We arrange campus tours by appointment only, to maintain social distancing on campus. Many of our new students have never even visited the campus. They’re doing the admissions process completely online.
Herzing College has been doing online advising and enrolment for years—long before the pandemic hit. We have a really good system in place.
Herzing Advisors walk you through everything: class schedule, costs, student funding, government training grants, how to apply— everything is arranged for the student online. We make the process as simple and painless as possible.
Still have questions?
Want to learn more about trades training at Herzing? We offer a wide variety of pre-apprenticeship programs and construction trades training.
Choose from programs in Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC, Gas Technician, Network Cabling, Construction Office Management, and more.
We have campuses in Toronto and Cambridge.
Chat live with an Admissions Advisor to get your questions answered now.
Or browse available programs and request information by email. We’re here to help!