Don’t be surprised if the next apprentice electrician who reports to your home or business on a service call is a little “wet behind the ears.”
More and more young people are answering the call to fill the skilled trades job openings projected to hit BC over the next few years. To address the need for more and younger people entering the skilled trades, the Industry Training Authority (ITA) of BC has been promoting and funding pre-employment trades training programs whereby youth who are still in high school can attend foundation-level classes at post-secondary institutions.
The program goes by the name of Accredited Credential Enrollment in Industry Training, or the more user friendly ACE-IT. At Selkirk College, ACE-IT has been part of the training profile for several years with a growing number of regional high school students taking advantage of its unique opportunity each year.
“High school ACE-IT students who enroll in a foundation program at Selkirk College might find themselves integrated with adult students or they may be part of distinct ACE-IT cohort,” says Dan Obradovic, Chair of Selkirk College’s School of Industry & Trades Training. “Students in Foundation programs – adults and ACE-IT alike – cover the technical training curriculum of the first year of apprenticeships.”
Students also learn the on-the-job practical skills necessary to be competent apprentices. As partially-skilled and knowledgeable workers, foundation grads are granted credit for between 350 and 450 hours of their apprenticeships upon gaining employment. Students are paid accordingly, early term apprentices typically earn between 50 per cent and 60 per cent of a journeyperson’s pay rate.
ACE-IT students enjoy even greater benefits in that they earn credit towards both high school graduation requirements and apprenticeships. Some of their tuition and supplies are covered, so they pay less than adults in the same programs.
“Some delight in the fact they pick up their Selkirk College graduation diplomas before they get their high school Dogwood diplomas,” says Obradovic.
Selkirk’s intake dates align nicely with high school semesters so students can exercise one of a number of training options: they can take a nine-month (September to May) program such as Mechanics or Hairdressing; they can take a six-month course (February to July) in Carpentry, Electrical, Metal Fabricator or Millwright/Machinist; or they may opt for the August to January intake of Carpentry or Electrical. Professional Cook runs seven months from September to March, as does Welding, where students enjoy an added benefit which enables them to ladder into the Metal Fabricator program in February if they choose.
The next intake date for ACE-IT programs is February, 2014 with most programs fully subscribed. Some seats are currently available in the Carpentry Program which starts next month.
Students interesting in the ACE-IT program should talk to their high school counselor, their ACE-IT coordinator or a Selkirk College counsellor.