Getting a head start on the trades

High school students will be able to take classes for credit towards TRU

Thirty-six high school students interested in getting a kick start in trades have been given the opportunity to start their training early due to the collaborative efforts of TRU and School District 73.

On Nov. 28, officials from each institution solidified an agreement that allows students from Grades 10, 11 and 12 to learn practical skills in both construction and mechanics at the NorKam Trades and Technology Centre, which can be counted as credits at TRU.

In February 2015, Kamloops high school students will have the opportunity to gain up to 16 credits towards a high school diploma, and even more significantly, 12 credits towards a university degree at TRU over one semester at NorKam.

Kelvin Stretch, secretary-treasurer for the school board, called the opportunity unique, since not all small communities have universities in town. (Danya LeBlanc/The Omega)

Kelvin Stretch, secretary-treasurer for the school board, called the opportunity
unique, since not all small communities have universities in town. (Danya LeBlanc/The Omega)

“The beauty of it is that they get credit towards their diploma, and they also can complete 80 per cent of their credits for their first year. So they’re not even done high school but they’ve already completed part of university,” said Kelvin Stretch, school board secretary-treasurer.

Even after receiving training, if students do not want to pursue a career in trades, their university credits can be applied to a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of general studies degree.

“If you get these credits at the secondary level, it’s one less thing students have to pay for. That’s why this partnership is so important – you get that dual credit towards both programs, and students are able to save time and money,” Stretch said.

In anticipation of the new program, the NorKam Trades and Technology Centre was renovated to accommodate the increase in trades and technology training. Last year, School District 73 and the Province of British Columbia invested $7.6 million into developing a new building wing that provides new classrooms and shop facilities.

Bryan Daly, TRU interim dean of trades and technology, said in the press release on the partnership that the delivery of an up-to-date, relevant curriculum and the provision of work-based skills training “will help graduates to be ready for more advanced training.”

In this coming decade the need for skilled trade workers is forecasted to require an estimated one million individuals to fill positions largely created by retiring workers, according to the press release.

Sheryl Lindquist, District Principal and Secondary Transitions (Danya LeBlanc/The Omega)

Sheryl Lindquist, District Principal and Secondary Transitions (Danya LeBlanc/The Omega)

“This is an opportunity to attract students to trades and technical careers by exposing students to the trades in a meaningful way – and to career options they might not have otherwise considered,” Daly said.

The partnership between TRU and the school district is not new. It continues to grow with the implementation of this program, similar to the TRU Start SD 73 program already offered to high school students, where, according to the TRU webpage, high school students can “experience university life while in secondary school through TRU on-campus courses.” The program allows students to take one or two university level course in economics, English, psychology and sociology, as well as one-year certificate and diploma programs such as early childhood education and health care assistant without needing to pay TRU tuition.

District principal Sheryl Lindquist said that their primary aim is to “kick start career readiness,” which is only possible due to the long tradition of partnership with TRU.

“We are so fortunate to have TRU so close and so willing to help us out,” Lindquist said.

For high school students interested in this program, applications for September 2015 intake will be available in the new year with a deadline set for mid-February.