Central Okanagan Public Schools is offering students the opportunity to get a head start, not only on their post-secondary education but their careers with trade programs.
This includes the electrical foundation program where students learn through hands-on lessons. The program is a partnership between School District 23 (SD23) and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in order to spark interest in students.
“It’s been a vital part of our community for over 20 years in providing relevant training and meaningful training to high school students,” said Bob Boback, dual credit coordinator for SD23.
Students can enroll in the nine-month electrician program, where they learn the trade from the beginning.
“This training sets them up for success in their ensuing years in the electrical trade. People that tried to enter into the trade directly in the past would only be able to get in as helpers,” said BCIT instructor Dennis Nymark.
While students learn the tricks of the trade, they are also earning dual credits. This allows them to have the option to head-start their education.
“Students can be earning their high school graduation while they’re getting started on their post-secondary or their career, so you’re really killing two birds with one stone,” said Boback.
Nymark says they not only cover level one training of the electrical apprenticeship but more advanced skills as well.
“We also cover almost all of the second year, a big chunk of the third year of electrical training and also we dabble in the fourth year of training as well,” said Nymark.
The program has been very successful over the past two decades, including one student who is currently working for Formula 1. Past students say it brought to light a new career path.
“I’ve kind of always been somebody who liked to work with my hands and liked getting a little bit dirty, really into my work,” said master electrician Darian Dallmann.
“This program was really important to me because it gave me that ability to make money doing something that I actually really enjoy doing.”
There is currently a shortage of skilled trade workers across the Okanagan and they’re trying to encourage students that a career in the trades doesn’t have to be a backup choice.
“Drop the narrative that trades are only for stupid people, there’s no money in trades, that it’s a dead-end job. It’s a career opener for somebody young to make money and then decide what they want to do,” said red seal journeyman electrician Clayton Robertson.
If students are interested in entering the program, they’re encouraged to speak to their school counsellor in grades 10 and 11.
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