Stelly’s students explore new skills

Minister of Education announced new program at local job site

From left

A new B.C.-wide high school level trades program was announced this week at a job site in Central Saanich.

Despite recent job action by teachers across the province, Minister of Education Peter Fassbender gathered with School District 63 Board Chair Wayne Hunter and Stelly’s Secondary Career Counsellor and Apprenticeship Coordinator Stu Rhodes on Tuesday, May 13 to announce the new Skills Exploration program for Grade 10, 11 and 12 students across B.C.

The program, designed as a sampler course for carpentry, electrical and plumbing trades, will allow high school students to see if the trades program is for them.

“It was great to have this announcement made in Central Saanich because the Saanich School District already has such an established trades program,” said Rhodes, adding that hundreds of students from the District in the last 10 years or so have benefitted from trades training programs.

“With the programming, students are able to legitimately double dip,” explained Rhodes.

“Every 120 hours students in the program log, they get credit for the equivalent of a four-credit course which counts not only towards their trades certification and apprenticeship hours but also towards their high school graduation.”

Rhodes added that having the province-wide trades sampler program will give students the opportunity to learn by doing.

“The program will allow those students who have an interest in the trades the opportunity to explore their options. These programs lead to career opportunities which lead to job satisfaction and most importantly, the students are engaged in a process that will cause them to be a lifelong learner, because even journeymen are taking courses to improve their craft after years of working in a trade. From an educator’s point of view, it makes me pretty giddy knowing that you’re sending these students out in a direction where they’ll embrace lifelong learning.”

Tuesday’s announcement took place at the home of Mandeep Bains and Nicole Zimmel, Central Saanich residents who are supporting the Saanich School District’s trades program by having students from the Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training (ACE IT) program and other post-secondary trades programs build a small, two-storey structure on their property. During the announcement five students from the build were also signed to apprenticeship contracts with local companies.

“To see a program like this that has students going into apprenticeships while still in high school … this is what the program is all about,” said Fassbender during the announcement. “This is the future in B.C.”

Rhodes said the success of the trades programs in the Saanich School District depend heavily on partnerships.

“It’s because of partnerships like the one with Nicole and Mandeep, among many others with organizations like the Industry Training Authority, post secondary institutions like Camosun and industry partners who hire our apprentices that this program sees such success. We’re already leaders in the province when it comes to trades training and that’s a great feeling.”