Community Comment: Trades programs flourishing in School District 20

I’m 10 months into my four-year term as School Trustee: New on the job, with a steep learning curve!

I’m 10 months into my four-year term as School Trustee: New on the job, with a steep learning curve!

While I was campaigning, many people brought forward the issue of what is happening with the trades and what we were doing to prepare our students to fill this huge part of our economy. I also wanted to know more about how the Trades Program run in SD 20 and how we needed to bring the public up to speed on what is happening in our School District.

I went up to J.L. Crowe and Stanley Humphries Schools, talked to the teachers, and looked at all the machine and woodwork tools that the students use. Many of these machines were broken and need to be replaced, some were older than me, and yet our programs functioned. Our staff has done a remarkable job of coddling old gear and some new–to produce some really great programs. I realized we have to keep our school equipment up to date, and I am looking at funding to help this along. It would be good to see a capital replacement budget as I have learned about in other districts.

I talked to Murray McConnachie, District Trades coordinator. He takes care of SD20 (Kootenay Columbia) Trades and Apprenticeship Training. He said 2014/15 was an exciting year with SD20 receiving both the ITA Labour Market Shortage pilot program funding and the Secondary School Apprenticeship Support funding. These amazing grants allowed SD20 to provide world class service to our students and CES (Career Education Society) and the ITA (Industry Training Authority) are thanked by both the board and trades students of School SD20.

Twenty-nine Ace It students completed apprenticeship training in the areas of Cooking, Hairdressing, Fabricating, Carpentry and Electrical, Mechanics, Millwright and Machining. Forty-two students are applying for next year’s Ace It programs. Another 31 students registered in 2015/16 school year, are completing work in the Secondary School Program (SSA). The students will work through their grade 10-12 years towards their chosen fields of trades training. These students come from various fields such as diesel engine mechanics, carpentry, fabrication, plumbing and cooking. Any student working in a designated trade field should contact Mr. McConnachie to learn about earning credit, scholarships and apprenticeship training through this amazing program. (

In the fall of 2015/16, current Ace It students will be assisted in obtaining their apprenticeships and registered in the Secondary School Apprenticeship program. This will bring the total number of SSA students to over 63 students in 14 different trades. Students who completed 900 hours of Work Based Training in their trade and complete SSA 11 A&B  12 A&B are eligible to receive the $1000 SSA bursary.

School District 20 is also working with Finning Tractor Ltd. – the world’s largest Caterpillar dealer network – to have students enrolled and complete their training as Heavy Duty mechanics in the “Think Big Program.” Currently three past students are enrolled, two have graduated and four are applying to this world-class 30-month program located at Grand Prairie College.

Selkirk College and SD20 (Kootenay Columbia) coordinated to offer two trades exploration day – one for grade 8-10 students in May and one for teachers in November. Both programs were well received and students and teachers were thrilled to get more experience in course and career selection.

SD20 (Kootenay Columbia) wishes to thank the CES, the ITA, and Selkirk College for making all of the trades training in our area possible.

Through 2015-16 the trades program will be working to assist and mentor current graduates into successful trades careers.

With increased funding via MOE, trades are clearly the career path of the next generation. Students are reminded that “Journey Person” is a historical term –You need to travel to work.– This is critical today – moving – to the opportunity, constantly marketing yourself, and networking are critical.

I will continue to work with our district staff and students to ensure all educational opportunities are world class in this district, Trades to Arts–All bring out the best in our diverse community.

Terry Hanik is a trustee for School District 20.

Community Comment is an opportunity for elected officials from our local municipalities to update citizens in the region on the events, plans and progress in their respective communities. Every Friday, the Trail Times will present, on a rotating basis, a submission from councils, school trustees or regional district directors.