Reflections on 33 years of HIEC
Kelly Hoey, Executive Director, HIEC-ApprenticeSearch.com
Today, HIEC is celebrating its 33rd anniversary. From our humble beginnings as a volunteer-run organization – a committee of our Halton Chambers of Commerce, in fact. Since then, we have grown to become a leading provider of career exploration programs and services for young people and job seekers across the country.
As I reflect on this anniversary, I think about all the people who had the vision for our work and who have stood behind HIEC over the past 3 decades. A not-for-profit does not reach a milestone like this without a dedicated community.
I want to take this time to extend a heartfelt thank you to every single person who has been part of HIEC’s success. This includes the time, wisdom, expertise, and mentorship of hundreds of past and present volunteer board members who have given us the freedom to let the organization grow; the support we have received from all levels of government; the participation of educators, youth and parents who helped shape our programs; the generosity of thousands of community volunteers and local businesses who have given their time and support to our experiential learning and mentorship programs. Without you, there would be no HIEC. And finally, I would like to thank our dedicated team who are behind each program. You make awesome things possible every day.
It’s been 30 years since I started working at HIEC, and what I’ve loved about my work since the beginning is that there are always new challenges to meet, innovative strategies to implement, networks to grow, and partnerships to grow.
There have been so many highlights over the three decades I’ve called myself a HIECian. My first job was to help set up the Career Lab, which still runs to this day and supports youth to imagine all pathways and options for future success.
From launching ApprenticeSearch.com to transitioning our Career Lab online (and transitioning again to a hybrid model), we’ve continued to leverage new technology to reach more young people every year. It’s particularly humbling to have the backing of our industry partners, who see the value and potential in preparing the next generation of students for the workforce.
This year, we marked another remarkable milestone – ApprenticeSearch.com became a national platform, supporting people across Canada who are looking for rewarding careers in the skilled trades and employers who are looking to build their businesses in the sector. Like most of our work, this would not have been possible with the support of partners and champions that share our vision, including our long-time friends at the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum who partnered with us to launch the Canadian Apprenticeship Service’s grants for employers hiring and training first year apprentices in 39 Red Seal trades.
One of my favourite things about working at HIEC is seeing the tangible ways we change lives. Whether it’s matching a student with a rewarding apprenticeship or going outside official duties to ensure someone is connected to necessary social services, my team is committed to breaking down the barriers that keep young people from reaching their fullest potential. Knowing we’re helping people break cycles of poverty, discrimination, and disenfranchisement brings me immense pride.
Looking to the future, I know the HIEC team will remain as passionate as we are now about helping people reach their own version of success. Encouraging the workforce of the future is an investment that benefits everyone.
In the coming years, HIEC will continue to work hard to grow our programs and services that remove barriers and create pathways for the future workforce. While we are proud of all that we have accomplished, we know that our work is never actually done; there will always be new generations with unique challenges. But with the passion and dedication that the HIEC community holds, we know anything is possible. Right now, our sights are set on the role we can play to help young people feel positive about the future. And we can’t do it without you.