ACE-IT: Fort St. John student’s career head start

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By , December 10, 2010

Amias Dirks of Fort St. John graduated from secondary school in June — certain he wanted to be a carpenter, and with a solid head start on reaching that goal.

It all came to Dirks well before graduation, in a program that gives students apprenticeship technical training at local colleges and work experience with on-the-job training; it also helps them find apprenticeships. The young people earn credits toward graduation and college trades training.

The program is called ACE-IT (Accelerated Credit Enrollment for Industry Training). It’s delivered by school districts and post-secondary institutions like Northern Lights College where Dirks studied carpentry as a high school senior. Local employers are involved in work experience placements and as apprenticeship sponsors.
The program is one of three youth initiatives on which the Industry Training Authority partners with the Ministry of Education. ITA oversees trades training in BC and provides funding to school districts to help them deliver the initiatives.

ACE-IT let Dirks complete the two levels of technical training for his apprenticeship. Meanwhile, according to Dirks, many of his classmates were still considering their career options.

“I’d thought about carpentry before, but didn’t know much about it,” he said. “I took a semester to see if I’d enjoy it, and I’m still happy. “I wouldn’t have gone for carpentry as soon if not for the program in high school.”

Now the 18-year-old is employed in his first job, as a carpentry apprentice at Haab Homes Construction Ltd. in Fort St. John.

Owner Steve Haab knows the value of well-trained trades workers. He has sponsored 15 apprentices in various trades in the dozen years since starting his company in the last year of his own carpentry apprenticeship. Haab gives high marks to ACE-IT because its students are “not green as grass” and have a high apprenticeship success rate.

“They’re definitely a step above someone fresh out of high school. They come on site with important basic skills — knowing what a trimmer is, a stud, a blueprint, metric conversions. It saves a lot of time,” said Haab.
“I make money if I have good apprentices, and that’s what ACE-IT gives me. Employers without apprentices are just holding back their businesses.”

Glad to be where he is, Dirks said that a carpentry career is “definitely for someone who likes the outdoors and working with his hands, and with wood. It’s a good feeling at the end of the day, looking back and seeing what you’ve accomplished.

“A carpenter can be in charge of a job and know the full aspects of what’s going on. It’s hard work, but rewarding.”
Dirks likes what ACE-IT did for him, and thinks Grade 11 students who want to know about trades careers should check out the programs available in their school districts.

For more information, contact:
Karen Zukas
Lead, Communications
Industry Training Authority (ITA)
Direct Dial: 603 214-8710
Cell: 604 307-2122

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