High School Students Explore Trades at VIU

June 18, 2014 - 7:45am

When Dustin Decouteau’s grandfather taught him a bit about welding, he thought he might be onto something he could enjoy as a career once he graduates high school.

In Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) first offering of the 12-week Introduction to Trades program, the Woodlands Secondary Grade 11 student had a chance to learn even more about the welding trade – enough to convince him to enroll in VIU’s Welding program as a dual credit student this fall.

“I’ll be done high school and my first year of a trade at university before my friends even get started,” says Decouteau. “I’ve got friends and some family in welding and other trades; it’s such a great route.”

As one of 15 students undertaking VIU’s first Introduction to Trades program – offered in partnership with Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools – Decouteau began the program in late March, eventually gaining some basic hands-on skills in not only welding, but also carpentry, electrical and mechanics.

The program, funded in part by the Ministry of Advanced Education, concluded June 13 with an event to celebrate the students’ accomplishments.

Ethan White-Hill, a Grade 11 student at Nanaimo District Secondary School said he plans to finish high school and then enter the Electrical program – the trade he was pretty sure he would like when he started Introduction to Trades.

“I came in eyeing up electrical,” he says. “There were only three days of that in the program, but those three days were so packed with information and it’s such good stuff, that I still want to do Electrical.”

White-Hill also said he appreciated adding four certifications offered through the program to his resume: Standard First Aid, Fall Protection, Confined Space Entry, and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).

Automotive instructor Dale Baumel said he was impressed with the group of students in VIU’s first Introduction to Trades program, and not surprised to see several making the commitment to the dual credit program in the fall.

“With 12 high school credits going toward graduation, they also get the experience of finding out if they like it,” says Baumel, who took the students through the General Mechanics section, covering automotive, small engine and heavy duty mechanics.

Before starting their hands-on trades experiences, he adds, the students were given an introduction to the apprenticeship system, an overview of safe work practices, an introduction to tools and equipment, and sessions on organizing work, estimating and working in various trades environments.

Employability skills – like reading plans, time management, resume building and interview preparation – were also part of the program.

Along with the four trades-related certifications – valued at about $700 – Baumel says students completing the program come away with employment-ready skills along with a basic understanding of a variety of trades they might choose to pursue.

“This is a starting point for these students,” he says. “A lot of them don’t have the opportunity to try out various trades anywhere else. Now they have a good idea of what they like.”

Derek Beeston, vice principal of learning alternatives for the school district, says the Introduction to Trades program provided students with a great opportunity for hands-on learning.

“On one of my visits to the program
the students were out in the rain setting up scaffolding with huge smiles on their faces,” he says. “That’s when I knew we got it right.”

Five of the students have indicated interest in taking the dual credit program beginning in fall 2014.


Learn More:

For more information about dual credit opportunities at VIU for students through the University’s partnership with Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, see http://schools.sd68.bc.ca/ctc/

Shari Bishop Bowes, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University
P:250.740.6443 C: 250.618.1535 E: Communications@viu.ca T: @viunews

Tags: Student Success

Sign up for our VIU news and experts email