High school students learning skilled trades in the Comox Valley can say goodbye to worn-out table saws and drill presses, and hello to some new equipment.
Comox Valley Schools staff, students, and provincial government representatives were at G.P. Vanier Secondary on Friday, June 15 to announce funding for the school district’s skilled trades programs.
The $178,782 in funding comes from the Industry Training Authority’s Youth Trades Capital Equipment Program. It will be allocated towards new equipment and upgrades to the Comox Valley school district’s trades classrooms and workshops, and will include a new state-of-the-art metal-cutting device at Vanier.
Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard announced the funding Friday on behalf of Melanie Mark, B.C.’s Minister of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training.
Leonard said funding youth trades programming is important given the B.C. government’s estimate that the province will require 100,000 more skilled trades workers by 2027.
“The kids we saw today represent a part of that workforce,” she said after the event. “We really have to kick it up and make sure we’re providing them with the opportunity to learn their trades, to learn to do it safely and have those greater opportunities we desperately need to grow our economy and make a better B.C.”
The announcement at Vanier was part of the province’s broader funding allocation of $3.5 million towards 58 school districts in B.C.
Another speaker on Friday was Randy Grey, Comox Valley Schools’ careers program co-ordinator. He spoke about the increasing popularity of skilled trades training and apprenticeships among high school students in the Valley.
“In our district, when I started my job nine years ago, we had one student who did a trade while they were in high school,” he said. “Today we have 40 doing trades, and I have a list of close to 70 that I have to somehow thin out because they can’t all get into a trades seat at the college.”
Graduates of Grey’s programs have gone on to work in high-paying industries such as construction, carpentry, and welding, among others.
“We’re seeing more students each year identifying that a trade is a great way to get a head start in life,” he said.