There’s a new push in the region to encourage students to pursue a career in trades.
In recognition of Apprenticeship Recognition Week, the province will allocate $1.3 million this year to 49 school districts across B.C. for their Youth Work in Trades program.
The program is a dual-credit program that gives B.C. students in Grades 10, 11 and 12 a chance to work with local employers to gain real-world experience before graduation. Students earn a paycheck, put hours into an apprenticeship program and earn up to 16 credits to put towards their high school diplomas. They can enroll at any time during the school year, and are eligible for a $1,000 grant if they complete 900 apprenticeship hours before graduation.
The Industry Training Authority (ITA) made the announcement Nov. 5 to increase funding to the program by more than $100,000 from last year, according to the press release. Each of the school districts will receive between $20,000 and $40,000 to support youth apprentices in their communities.
Terrace and Prince Rupert were both on the list to receive $20,000 again this year. The funding will be used by the school district to raise awareness about the program, as 70,000 jobs in the trade industry are expected to open up in the province over the next decade.
For the first time, a local skilled trades advocate and ITA regional apprenticeship advisor Sebastien Paquet spoke to around 60 current Youth Trades students on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at Coast Mountain College.
These talks are being held across the region to encourage students in the program to continue pursuing a career in trades. Paquet says the sudden increase in job opportunities is largely because many of the current trades workers are set to retire.
“It’s quite a bit, and there are going to be big projects coming. People are starting to retire, and we need to replace them,” Paquet says. “We are a resource-based region so there’s a large need for trades.”
Last spring, eleven students from Kitimat, Terrace and Stewart received Youth Work in Trades $1,000 grant for completing 900 hours within six months of graduation. Brigitta van Heek, trades trainer for Coast Mountains School District, says the number of students who participated last year was the most in northern B.C.