Kootenay-Columbia School District 20 earns ITA Trades Award

J. L. Crowe and Stanley Humphries boast most students engaged in trades programs

School District 20’s trades program received a big thumbs up from the provincial authority last week.

The Industry Training Authority (ITA) presented the Kootenay-Columbia SD 20 with a Youth Work in Trades Performance Award.

The award recognizes the efforts of Trail’s J. L. Crowe Secondary and Stanley Humphries Secondary in Castlegar for recruiting the highest number of students in trades in the region. Between them, the schools had almost 40 students participate in the Youth Work in Trades program.

“Over the last 22 years of working with career and trades training, I have seen so many lives bettered by ITA programs.” said Murray McConnachie, SD 20 Trades Coordinator. “Young men and women are able to start meaningful careers that lead to incredible lives. Well-paid secure work, which is rare in this world.”

Youth Work in Trades introduces students to a variety of careers and students 15 and over can then enroll and learn their chosen craft through practical, hands-on work experience.

This year, 37 students enrolled in Carpentry Foundation, Metal Fabrication, Millwright/Machinist Foundation, Electrical Foundation, Hairstylist, Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic, Welder, Professional Cook, and Construction Electrician.

Through the Trades program, students attend high school and go to work at the same time. Not unusual for many students, but for those in the program, their employer pays them as an apprentice, giving the student valuable experience, bankable apprenticeship hours, and up to 16 credits towards graduation. Students also register with the Industry Training Authority as Youth Apprentices.

Recent graduate Colby Benesh found his calling as a heavy duty mechanic, thanks to Youth Work in Trades.

“I love to tinker, build, and fix,” said Benesh. “I was born to be in heavy duty. I finished school and two weeks later moved to Cranbrook to be an apprentice with Brandtt Tractor. Most my friends are either not working or trying to figure stuff out. I’ll make over $50k this year—not bad for 18!”

Many also qualify for the Youth Work in Trades (WRK) Award, a $1,000 award given to students for sustained and exceptional work as an apprentice.

“Within the current COVID pandemic, our students are still being hired and retained in record numbers,” said McConnachie. “While many face uncertainty our Youth in Trades programs are flourishing. Whether students are looking for a fast track to a well-paid career, a path to follow a passion, or a way to pay for other education, there is no better course.”

The award includes $5,000 in additional funding to assist SD 20 to further develop their Youth Work in Trades program.

ITA’s Chief Executive Officer Shelley Gray recognized the excellent work of SD 20 staff, students, and Kootenay employers in the announcement.

“The Kootenay-Columbia School District, teachers, and employers in the program are providing students with crucial hands-on experience that is required for their apprenticeship training.”

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training reflected on the importance of building skills and working towards a secure future.

“The future is bright for these students in the skilled trades training programs. As we rebuild B.C.’s economy post COVID-19, there will be a high demand for young people in the skilled trades and those are good-paying, stable careers.”


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