VIU Offers Red Seal Tradespeople Credits Towards Academic Programs

Martin Barnett, Chair of VIU’s Professional Baking and Pastry Arts program, is excited about the new option that gives Red Seal holders transfer credits towards academic programs at VIU – so much so that he’s taking advantage of it himself to obtain his Bachelor of Arts.

February 2, 2017 - 2:15pm

The new option, approved last March, gives people a head start towards a second credential

Martin Barnett, Chair of Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Professional Baking and Pastry Arts program, is spending a lot of his spare time reading textbooks and writing essays these days.

Barnett recently crossed to the other side of the desk to become a student and is one of the first people to take advantage of a new option open to anyone who has their Red Seal certification and wants to continue their education – they are given a block of 60 transfer credits to use towards an academic program.

A bachelor’s degree is typically 120 credits, so the transfer credits can provide a jumpstart into a second credential, depending on the program. Students still have to meet the requirements of the program they want to enter – and course prerequisites – which means the block transfer credits are often used towards any general elective courses. Depending on the program students want to enter, the amount of transfer credits they can use towards it varies. The new option was approved by VIU’s Senate last March.

Barnett, who plans to get his Bachelor of Arts in History and English using the credits transferred from his Red Seal, is doing it purely for the enjoyment of learning at this stage as he’s retiring soon. However, he’s been a long-time advocate of opening up this option for trades students.

“I think it’s important because many of our students go on to start their own businesses or work in senior management roles, but they aren’t trained in how to run a company, they just fly by the seat of their pants,” he says. “With this option, you can become a Red Seal and work in the industry for a while, then come back to do a business or management degree without having to invest an extra four years in school.”

Rebecca Williams, a VIU Professional Baking and Pastry Arts student, is interested in pursuing a business degree one day, after she’s obtained her Red Seal and has some industry experience behind her.

“I’d like to run my own bakery one day, so I would definitely take advantage of this option,” she says.

Red Seal holders who want to teach a trade at the secondary school level will have a great start thanks to the new block transfer credit option. Typically, a bachelor’s degree is required for entry into the Faculty of Education’s three-semester post-baccalaureate program. Harry Janzen, Dean of VIU’s Faculty of Education, says if a Red Seal carpenter wants to teach woodworking, he or she will be allowed direct entry into the program. Other than that, the only other requirement would be two first-year English courses.

“It’s a real leg up for them,” he says. “We have been pushing this two-year block transfer for a long time and we are really glad this happened.”

Two students have already expressed interest in this option, Janzen added.

Glynis Steen, Dean of the Faculty of Trades and Applied Technology, says it’s one more way students can use their past training to go into another career.

“For a lot of people who have done the trades programs, the idea of doing another four years of schooling can be overwhelming,” she says. “I think it’s a huge bonus to be able to use some of your Red Seal training towards an academic program and a real recognition of the value of trades training and how people are viewing the trades professions.”

While the option is still very new, Steen expects a lot of uptake as word gets out. Future steps may include developing a business program tailored to trades people running their own small businesses.

VIU is not the first institution to offer graduates of Red Seal programs credits towards academic programs. A special report written by the BC Council on Admissions and Transfer in 2012 discovered several programs that allow students who have completed trades programs to ladder into degree programs, but the transferability of trades qualifications is often limited to specific programs or credentials. VIU’s policy applies to general elective requirements in any new program and, with appropriate approval, they can also be used to meet some specific lower-level requirements in a program.

The Red Seal block transfer credit option is just one of the ways VIU works to provide students with as much transfer credit from other programs as possible. Students with certificates, diplomas and previous baccalaureate degrees can also obtain transfer credits. For those considering further education at VIU, Steen recommends meeting with a Recruiter through the Office of Enrolment Management.



Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6559 | C: 250.619.6860 | E: | T: @VIUNews

Tags: Teaching and Learning