July 15, 2024

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Well-loved school Career Development Coordinator retires: appreciated and honoured for impacting community and many lives – PortageOnline.com

A well-loved Career Development Coordinator with the Portage la Prairie School Division, who has impacted the lives and careers of many students, as well as left an impression with his colleagues, is retiring. Blair Hordeski has been said to have assisted so many students who moved into apprenticeship programs over the years at Portage Collegiate Institute, that those who know him could not resist giving him honour before he moves on to his next chapter in life.

Portage la Prairie Enns Brothers Branch Manager Gary Bohn says their company has always been a promoter of apprenticeship, but nine years ago, Hordeski took the time to reach out to him, and the rest is history.

“He said, ‘I know you’re a busy guy, but do I have 15 minutes to talk?’ He really wanted to understand our needs as far as employment and wanted to know the skills that we needed in apprentices. We had a really good conversation about what we needed in our business. We have many different roles that need many different skill sets, he took that information, and really started to work on trying to match the student skill sets with the business, which is something that I haven’t experienced with Career Development Coordinators in the past.”

Gary BohnGary Bohn

He recounts many success stories of students starting their apprenticeship during High School who continued to get their Red Seal. Bohn explains the reasons that he feels made Hordeski so successful.

“I find Blair has been a leader in Manitoba when it comes to Career Development, because he has a big heart and he really cares about people. Blair’s commitment to the Portage la Prairie School Division and the children of our community is truly commendable. His role in mentoring young adults to make those hard life decisions is invaluable. Blair’s been a trailblazer and a leader in this community and he’s even shared some of his successes with educators across Manitoba. He’s been a great mentor to the students of the Portage Collegiate Institute, even helping kids after graduation find employment. In addition to his career, there’s been many stories on Portage online for his volunteer work.”

Bohn points out that the displacement of Ukrainians during the war moved Blair to help families find homes. He adds he also remembers the time when a car was donated to the cause. The auto body shop repaired the car and donated it to a family in need.

“Just a heartfelt thank you to Blair for his unwavering commitment to the children in our community and I wish him the best in his retirement. Jason Green is filling Blair’s role and I encourage local businesses to partner with him. I hear many businesses talk about issues in finding employees these days. Consider partnering with our local high school.”

mementoA memento from Enns Brothers and PCI in appreciation for Hordeski’s many contributions

Enns Brothers had several students come and work due to Blair’s cooperation. 

“We’ve done a lot of work experience here. We do support the high school apprenticeship program,” continues Bohn. “So, we’ve had some students come through in Grades 10, 11, and 12 and get some work experience while going through school. It just helps them that much further ahead when they do graduate, and then they’re much more successful in their path to getting their Red Seal ticket.”

Austin Little was one of the students whom Hordeski helped jump-start into a career who now works at Enns Brothers. 

“I started at Enns Brothers in 2016 right out of high school. Blair has been a really good mentor. He helped me write an interview, made it professional, and just presentable. Blair’s always been good. He comes in, checks in, and makes sure we’re in a good and safe environment. He’s just a really good guy.”

Austin LittleAustin Little

Little says he was working with the company for about two years before he left high school and knew Blair at about the time when he started his career at PCI. 

“I’ve been at Enns Brothers for eight years and have been loving it. I worked at the gas station with Gary Bohn’s kid, and then Gary approached me and it’s something I grew up doing. I grew up on the farm working on machines all the time. He basically landed me the job with the finishing touches. He’s very aesthetic. He pulls things out of you and can work things out of you. He enjoys doing his job and I hope the new person taking over his role fulfills it in just the same way he did.”

He adds the words he’d like to leave with Hordeski would be, “I thank Blair for all the young guys he’s helping out and getting them on their feet properly.”

Jason Green is taking the reins from Hordeski. We had a conversation about his placement in the position in the past, and he wanted to also share his thoughts. 

“I’ve also had a chance to see the work that he’s doing. In terms of knowledge, he’s been doing this for nine years. So, he understands the role of the Career Development Coordinator. He understands high school apprenticeship. But I think the things that I’ve really taken away from my work with Blair are the connections he’s made with the community, the relationships that he’s built, and the trust that exists between the high school, the school division, and employers. As these connections are made and continued, there’s confidence in the students we are presenting to employers and they know they’re getting strong candidates.”

Green adds Hordeski’s work includes knowing how to do the job. That includes content, the do’s and don’ts, and paperwork, but says Hordeski offers more.

“There’s a lot of book work that has to be done in terms of connecting students with the apprenticeship branch and making sure all the details have been addressed. But I think there’s also a creative element to it. There’s an artistic element to this role. I think the way in which you present yourself and the way you work with students and employers, is an art. I want to commend Blair and his ability to do those sorts of things, and I’m very hopeful that I can maintain the standard he set coming into this school here. You probably observed the appreciation for Blair from the rest of the staff.”

He explains that his conversations with colleagues revealed their complimentary impressions of his work. 

“It’s interesting because I think, sometimes, he does a lot of work away from the school. People may not be fully aware of the connections that he does have and the work that he does is sometimes a little bit behind the scenes. I appreciate the perspective I’ve been able to have because I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve gotten to join him for some of the conversations that he’s had with employers, and those have all been really positive.”

Green says he initially heard of him as a musician.

“My relationship with Blair is just that I knew he was someone that performed. Just getting to work with him, I’ve got a little bit of a different perspective in terms of him as a professional and the work that he does. He takes pride in his work. He loves what he does. I’m actually quite surprised that he’s deciding to retire. But again, through conversations that he and I have had, I understand his rationale and he’s got some plans on the horizon.”

Jason GreenJason Green holding announcement of his new role taking over Hordeski’s position next fall – pictured with Blair Hordeski

He adds that he feels Hordeski can walk away feeling very accomplished and proud of the work that he’s done. 

“I will certainly do my utmost to maintain that.”

new roleClose-up of new role announcement picturing Jason Green and Blair Hordeski

Having worked with Hordeski, myself, as a news reporter, I have always found him to be a joy to work with. I have always seen his sincere passion in genuinely wanting to help others (and he appreciates good art, too).

Happy retirement, Blair!