Trade apprenticeship program coming to local high school students

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
May 21st, 2012

The BC trades industry will be short an estimated 100,000 skilled trades professionals by 2015 and School District 51 wants to have their students ready for the opportunities to come.

Grand Forks Secondary School principal Scott Stewart made a financial request to the Board of Education during their regular board meeting earlier this month to get a trade apprenticeship program kick started for September 2012.

Beginning in September, Stewart wants to open up 10 positions to both GFSS and Boundary Central Secondary School students in a new trades apprenticeship program that would be in partnership with Selkirk College and community trades people.

The program would include a core set of skills-based classes taught at Selkirk College and monitored by a GFSS career councellor. The courses would include Food Safe, First Aid, H2S Alive, forklift operator certificate, transportation of dangerous goods and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). The group would go to Selkirk College Grand Forks campus on varying Fridays to take the courses. They may also do things like site visits to local trades operations, traffic control flagging certification and leadership training.

“The one thing employers are keen on is kids who can take the initiative and have a good work ethic. They can do things on their own and have some maturity,” Stewart told the board.

This would be a program for our kids that would entail various aspects of work readiness that would give them a leg up to make them more employable.

This program is different from the one currently being used. The current one, which has been running for about four years, has GFSS students going out and work with a tradesperson but without the Selkirk College training option.

There are currently two students enrolled in the current program. One student is working in metal fabrication and the other in carpentry. This summer a third will be learning hair dressing. The problem with going to school anywhere in the Boundary is that there isn’t a close proximity to the trades programs being offered through a post secondary school like there would be in bigger centers. Some students in larger centers will do a dual-credit program alongside high school so that when the graduate high school they can have up to 16 credits of post secondary credits too.

“So the only thing we can do (for students) is find employers to take them in apprenticeship roles,” said Stewart.

Stewart hopes this new program will give local students a better opportunity than they’ve had in the past.

“It will give some kids the opportunity to do their training and stay in Grand Forks,” said Stewart.

The new apprenticeship program costs about $1,400 a student and an additional $500 for the leadership training bringing the total to $1,900 a student or $19,000 for all. That cost is for Selkirk tuition and facilitation. The government has already contributed $20,000 to the existing project, but most of that money is to be used only for staffing costs. The staffing costs in this case are for the monitoring of the program through the career councellor. That same person can help monitor this new program.

“If we don’t have some financial support we probably couldn’t do it,” Stewart told the board.

The Board will take Stewart’s request for funding under consideration and board chair, Teresa Rezansoff, assured Stewart the board would get back to him as soon as possible so he can begin planning for the September launch of the program.