There are beneficial opportunities for both employers and students who participate in the Central Okanagan Public Schools Industry Training Authority (ITA) youth apprenticeship program for trades.
The program offers students a pathway to both finding employment in the construction industry and furthering their post-secondary education trades certification process, while also providing a labour source for contractors looking to fill particular trades needs.
For students, they get the opportunity to work 900 hours in a chosen trade of their interest while earning the equivalent of 16 credits on their high school graduation transcript. They also receive a $1,000 financial award from the Ministry of Education upon completion.
Bob Boback, the dual credit coordinator for Central Okanagan Public Schools, said the program is eligible for Grade 10-12 students and is an extension of the career exploration option program offered to students in Central Okanagan Public Schools that encompasses Grade 4-12 students in a variety of initiatives.
Boback said the dual credit option is advantageous for employers dealing with a labour shortfall on construction sites, as it attempts to match students and employers with similar interests.
“If a contractor needs to find someone to help out on a plumbing job, we try to match them to students who have an interest in that particular trade as a career option,” he said.
Similar dual credit options exist for other career options such as health care or education that ranges anywhere from 200 to 250 kids, with the trades route being the largest participation option.
Boback said with the trades route, the program is also reaching out to provide opportunities for girls to participate in the trades outlet.
“There is still that stigma about women working in the trades but that is changing and we are trying to increase those opportunities. That has been the mandate of the provincial government as well,” he noted, a goal which extends also to Indigenous communities.
A key incentive for employers is hiring dual credit students is qualifying for a federal tax credit.
Boback says beyond the cash incentive, it gives young people experience working in the construction industry and pursue their Red Seal apprenticeship certification at post-secondary institutions such as Okanagan College.
He added Central Okanagan middle and senior high schools also have counsellors on staff who can provide information to students looking to enroll in the program.
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