SD71 career programs coordinator Randy Grey addresses Comox Valley High School students.

Comox Valley School District receives $30,000 for high school apprentice training program

Comox Valley high schoolers interested in pursuing trades careers will receive some help this year from the Industry Training Authority (ITA).

As part of the ITA’s Youth Work in Trades program, ITA will supply School District 71 with $30,000 for 2017–18.

The Youth Work in Trades program is a dual credit program that connects B.C. students in grades 10–12 with local employers. Through the program, students can attain hands-on experience and job training while at the same time earning a paycheque and high school credit.

Through connections they make with local employers, students can kickstart careers in industries like carpentry, plumbing, welding and other trades sectors.

ITA apprenticeship advisor (North Vancouver Island) Doug Podetz says the program stems from an increasing demand for skilled trades workers in B.C.

“We have a skill shortage in trades,” he said. “There’s been lots of labour market information that has been released to indicate there are career demands [for] carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and so forth. The ministry is involved with doing current labour market updates by region.”

With high starting salaries and an increased demand for “tradies,” Podetz says more young people are gravitating towards trades careers. He said it is one way to avoid the growing debt that has become associated with obtaining university degrees.

“Like with any post-secondary program, candidates take an interest because of their desire and wish to do a particular career. But the linkage to job placement is always a critical component as well,” said Podetz

“In the end, you’re continuing to ‘earn while you learn’,” said Podetz of the Youth Work in Trades program. “And once you acquire your certification, your salary is well up there — $60,000, $80,000 — depending on what you’re doing. Then there’s always the potential to diversify, whether it’s in management roles, supervisory roles, teaching, inspector roles, etcetera.”

Around 30 students from Comox Valley’s three high schools will take part in the program this year. According to School District 71 career programs coordinator Randy Grey, student participation in trades training has increased in the last few years.

Grey said most Comox Valley students who take part pursue apprenticeships in fields such as construction and heavy duty mechanics.

“The whole idea is to try and make the transition from high school to the working world easier,” he said.

One student who has benefitted from trades programming in the Valley is Georges P. Vanier High School senior Alex Potts, who is following in his father’s footsteps of being a carpenter. Potts will attend North Island College’s carpentry program next fall.

“If you’re in a program like this, you can actually go out and apprentice at places, and try different trades,” said Potts. “The course I’m doing, I get to go to school for six weeks and then I go out and work with a company.”

The ITA partners with the B.C. Ministry of Education for the Youth Work in Trades program. Eleven school districts on Vancouver Island will receive $280,000 collectively.

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