The Slaney family legacy: 3 generations of GBC alumni and tradesmen

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GBC sheet metal student Brad Slaney at a work table

The future looks bright for George Brown College (GBC) sheet metal apprentice student Brad Slaney as he continues a proud family tradition in the skilled trades. He returned to school this fall semester to complete his apprenticeship after an impressive showing at the 2023 Skills Ontario Competition. 

And amid a critical shortage of skilled tradespeople in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and across the province, he'll enter a workforce where his skills are in high demand. 

Brad won bronze at Skills Ontario in the sheet metal category in May, and it's no surprise he performed well—the skilled trades are in his blood. Both his father and grandfather are tradesmen who studied and taught at GBC, and Brad plans to continue the Slaney legacy by completing his apprenticeship and hopefully later returning as a professor. 

"I would absolutely love to return to GBC to teach the next generation of sheet metal students as well as have the opportunity to continue the Slaney tradition by learning and teaching at a school that's so loved by my family," he said. 

Brad's father, Rob Slaney, is proud to see his son following in the family's footsteps. Rob was inspired by his late father, Ray, to take up the trades and teach at GBC. 

"Family is your first support for learning," Rob said. "Apprenticeship is learning the skill for your future." 

Learn about GBC's apprenticeship programs.  

Check out programs at the School of Apprenticeship and Skilled Trades. 

Alumni transition to teaching 

While the Slaney legacy at GBC is impressive, they're not the only alumni to return to mentor up-and-comers. Shayne Speck graduated from GBC's Sheet Metal Apprenticeship program in 2011 and returned in 2013 to teach. He's one of Brad's instructors. 

"The students help you keep thinking about new problems and how the trade is changing," Shayne said. "They help you think of new ways to do things and keep things current and maybe change and improve how things are done." 

Brad credits his teacher, Shayne, his journeyman, Jeff, and his family for his success and is grateful to them for passing down their skills and expertise. 

Alumni paying it forward 

Graduates can pay it forward by returning to GBC to teach, mentor or support a co-op student. They can also give back by guest speaking or offering graduates job opportunities. Active members of GBC's alumni network ensure the next generation of skilled trades professionals are prepared to handle challenges in the workplace. Getting involved with our alumni network can also open new opportunities for the professionals who offer their support. 

Visit the Centre for Construction and Engineering Technologies' Industry Liaison Office page to learn more about how to get involved as a student or as a graduate. Get connected by visiting our  Alumni page today!