Discover Trades BC featured at Northern Lights College Dual Credit Day in School District No. 59

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By , December 2, 2012

By Jill Earl
Northeast News Nov. 22

DAWSON CREEK- Grade nine students from across School District 59 came to the Dawson Creek campus of Northern Lights College last Thursday to get a closer look at the career opportunities available in trades.

The students participated in a number of sessions that allowed them to visit classrooms and learn hands-on about different programs the college offers. Sessions showcased opportunities in plumbing, electrician, carpentry, hairstyling and cosmetology, millwright, welding, automotive and cooking.

Kelly Betts, project manager for Discover Trades BC, says that many high school students are aware of common trades like plumbing and carpentry but don’t know about the vast majority of others.

“There are over a 100 different trades and so there’s so many jobs out there and skill sets required to support our society. The more that we can expose students with events like today where they get a chance to go into those shops and talk to those people and go, ‘wow, I had no idea’, really a great opportunity for these students,” she said.

Betts was invited to speak during the day and introduced the students and educators to the Discover Trades BC website, which includes a variety of resources for those thinking about getting into trades. She believes it’s important to expose students at an early age about different education and career paths and that information sessions like the one held at the college are necessary for students to form a decision.

“What our research is telling us is that students formulate their opinions about careers quite early…often times at grade 11 or 12 they’ve already made their decisions about what they’re planning to do after high school. If they don’t get exposure earlier about the opportunities and what it might be like to work in a career, then they get a very screwed perspective of the world,” Betts said.

The day also introduced students to the duel credit program offered by NLC and school districts across the province. Duel credit programs allow high school students, who have met all necessary prerequisites, to take college programs or classes while earning credits towards their high school diploma in their grade 11 or 12 year.

If students enroll in a trades program for a semester they can earn 16 credits towards their high school diploma- which needs 80 credits- as apart of their electives courses, a college credential if it’s a certificate program and they earn foundational or level one of whatever trade that they’re enrolled in.

“So in a way it’s almost a triple credit program,” said Frances Armstrong, career programs manager for School District 59.

Students can take just about every program offered at the college including university transfer courses and academic courses, but they are encouraged to talk to their career counsellor early on about their interest to ensure they have all the required classes.

The school district has had this program available to students for over the past 15 years, though it began only for a couple students who’s needs weren’t being met by the regular
high school program.

Armstrong says that in 2005, the Industry Training Authority made funding available to school districts to engage students in trades programs while they were still in high school. The funding program is called ACE IT, accelerated credit enrollment in industry training, it is available across the province and provides money to school districts to pay for the college programs and courses taken by duel credit students.

“They could see that there was going to be a huge demand for trades in the future…they knew what was coming, so this is an initiative that they started,” said Armstrong about the hundreds of thousands of job vacancies expected in Canada in the future.

Dawson Creek grade nine student, Austin Collins, says that he learned a lot during the day and wasn’t aware that cooking and early childhood education were even considered trades.

“Welding is not me, or automotive, cooking is more me…The day is not even finished and I can almost guarantee this is something I’d love to do, just the duel credit,” Collins said.

Betts says the trades have changed considerably over the last number of years and are expected to keep changing as new information and technology become available. She says hands-on information sessions directed at students helps them to make educated choices about potential careers.

“A lot of parents perspectives-if they haven’t had a lot of exposure to trades-they may not understand the opportunities…if you haven’t had exposure to something it’s really hard to be recommending certain areas or certain careers, so yeah I think there is a stigma,” Betts said.

“It’s not a low skill activity. To be a trades person, to be a good trades person, it does require post secondary education, college education, so a lot of times people don’t
 understand that,” she adds.

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