By Eric Elliott
After 12 weeks and more than 336 hours of instruction, 12 students from David Thompson Secondary School are graduating from the Discovery Trades Program held at the College of the Rockies.
The program has been running for more than half a decade now delivered in conjunction by Canfor, the College of the Rockies, the Rocky Mountain School District and the local Shuswap Indian Band. The program provides high school students the chance to get their feet wet in the trades industry, learning about trades such as plumbing, roofing, flooring, carpentry and electrical over the 12-week period.
They get a real wide variety of exposure to different trades and then we take them on three different field trips to actually tour and work in the trades departments, said Invermere College of Rockies campus manager Doug Clovechok. Whats really cool about that is the trade students who are actually in the programs in Cranbrook spend the day teaching these students about the craft theyre learning so thats kind of exciting.
Mr. Clovechok said this initial experience learning various trades gives students a more well-rounded approach when deciding whether or not to pursue a career within the industry after high school.
Its been incredibly successful. Weve had kids who have gone through the program that have ended up in our trades programs in Cranbrook so theres a direct correlation between the program and getting into post-secondary institutions, he said. If you talk to our local construction folks, they cant find people so if these guys want jobs, they can get jobs locally. In the province of B.C., there are so many jobs associated with trades right now that people are coming out to get work.
Beyond a job perspective, Mr. Clovechok said he believes that the program allows students to establish more self-confidence and self-awareness while discovering talents they didnt know they had prior to entering the program.
In addition to gaining trades experience, students typically leave the program with nearly $1,000 worth of certificates, which include First Aid Level 1, WHIMIS and chainsaw training among many others.
One of the projects that the program boasts is the completion of two garden sheds that are fully operational with electrical and roofing that will be sold at the Invermere Home Hardware. The proceeds from the two sheds will be donated to the Columbia Valley Rockies hockey team.
With the program done for the year, Mr. Clovechok said that parents and students can begin thinking about whether or not the program suits their interest for next year. Those who are interested are able to meet with Mr. Clovechok who brings in specific people from within the industry to talk about the interesting aspects of each trade. He said what makes the program so successful is its uniqueness among the other traditional high school programs.
Weve had anecdotal testimony from parents that their kids were so bored with high school that they couldnt get them to go to school but once this trade program started the kids couldnt wait to get to the site, he said.