North Okanagan-Shuswap School District recognizes the need to provide students with meaningful, hands-on and engaging career explorations throughout their educational experience. Research shows that the earlier we introduce trades to students, the more likely they are to consider a trade as a career. One of our key partnerships in the BC Education System is with the Industry Training Authority (ITA). The ITA’s Youth Programs are all about giving youth a career path to trades. For students in elementary school, we run Youth Discover Programs. We are supporting an Applied Design, Skills and Technology (ADST) curriculum focus to all elementary schools this upcoming year through The Elementary Woodshop Program. This allows students to build locomotives, planters, bird feeders, bird houses, and logging trucks. In addition, we will continue to support elementary schools with grants to allow students to unleash their inner design skills and creativity. Students this past year designed and built a wide range of things in elementary schools such as bicycle blenders, play structures & shelters, fairy houses, and peg board art (to name only a few).
In high school, we offer Youth Explore the Trades. The intent of this program is to expose students to a variety of trades so that they are able to make educated decisions as to which trade they would like to pursue at a deeper level. For example, students are exposed to plumbing and pipefitting before making the commitment to undertake six months of training at a post-secondary institution. We are proud to partner once again with Okanagan College to offer this program at Eagle River Secondary this school year. This program is available to students throughout the district. We also provide opportunities throughout the school year for students to engage in career spotlight sessions, job shadows with employers, visits to local industry and by partaking in presentations at their school. Spotlight sessions take a particular career area and feature many of the job opportunities in that career field. At the spotlight session students get an opportunity to meet people actually working in the field, learn about educational opportunities, and talk to organizations in that career area.
Finally, our youth apprenticeship programs in high school consist of Youth Train in Trades (the classroom portion that accounts for about 20 percent of the apprenticeship) and Youth Work in Trades (the hands-on training in the workplace that accounts for about 80 percent of the apprenticeship). Students who pursue the Youth Train in Trades program typically complete trades training at their high school or a partner post-secondary institution. We are proud of our training partnerships with Okanagan College, Thompson Rivers University, BCIT, Vancouver Community College, and Camosun College. Students in the Youth Work in Trades program are hired by an employer – as a registered apprentice – and get paid and accrue hours towards the work-based training requirements. We are happy to provide local employers with support when taking on student apprentices.
Dual Credit Opportunities (Academic & Trades)
‘Dual Credit’ programs help students get a head start on post secondary career choices including opportunities in the trades, post secondary technical training, and a variety of job ready certificates. Designed for Grade 11 and 12 students, these opportunities help students be successful, get advanced recognition and perhaps apprenticeships for the work they are already doing! The best part is that most of these opportunities are tuition free and students may receive dual high school and college credits, as well as Industry Training Authority Level 1 credit in most trades courses. Recent changes in the age eligibility requirements with the ITA allow students who have graduated to receive this support as well, provided this is part of their official post-secondary transition plan. Current dual credit opportunities for our students include:
• Automotive Collision Repair (@ AL Fortune)
• Automotive Service Technician (@ Salmon Arm Sec.)
• Hairstylist (@ Pleasant Valley Sec.)
• Professional Cook 1 (@ AL Fortune)
• Welding Foundations, Electrical Foundations and Plumbing Pre-apprenticeship (@ Okanagan College)
• Carpenter Foundation (formerly Residential Construction) (@ Okanagan College)
• Many other trades programs offered at Okanagan College (Kelowna & Vernon), Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops) and other post secondary institutes in the province are also available to students (i.e. Heavy Duty Mechanics, 4th Class Power Engineering, Millwrights).
• Office Administration Certificates (@ Okanagan College)
• Health Care Certificates (@ Okanagan College and TRU)
• Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (@ Okanagan College)
What is the takeaway message?
Jason Leber, who is the Manager of Youth Programs at the ITA, was recently interviewed for Learn: The Magazine of BC Education. He was asked what he wished people would know about the ITA and trades in general. His response is worth sharing:
“Many trades require a high level of knowledge and skill, especially in math and problem solving. Although attitudes are shifting, we wish parents, educators and counsellors better understood that trades training programs benefit all students, no matter what their career goals. Anyone with even a year or two as an apprentice on their resumé is going to stand out from others when applying for a job or to a post-secondary educational program. For those who do choose to go into the trades, they can, on average, finish their apprenticeship in four years, without any student debt and earning money throughout the duration of their trades education. It gives students a fantastic start on their early working years, and there are so many career advancement opportunities to explore as they gain experience.”
Every secondary school in our school district has a Career Centre where you can connect with staff to learn more about these great opportunities. Applications are available for all of our programs. Make sure you stop by so we can help you find your path and your future!