Grand Forks Secondary School looks at trades program

Grand Forks Secondary School hopes to encourage students to look into the trades with a program that could begin in September.

Grand Forks Secondary School Principal Scott Stewart (pictured) and teacher Helen Argue are pushing for students to get involved with the Secondary School Apprenticeship (SSA) program.

Grand Forks Secondary School Principal Scott Stewart (pictured) and teacher Helen Argue are pushing for students to get involved with the Secondary School Apprenticeship (SSA) program.

Grand Forks Secondary School (GFSS) hopes to encourage students to look into trades with a new program that could begin next September.

The program will give students the opportunity to be certified in numerous fields related to the work place, as well earn high school credits.

Developed by GFSS Principal Scott Stewart and teacher Helen Argue, are pushing for students to get involved with the Secondary School Apprenticeship (SSA) program.

Argue will be the teaching consultant for the program and consult with the students and employers.

SSA is an opportunity for a student to have placement with an employer and basically start their apprenticeship while they’re still in high school.

“It is an easier way for us to tie kids in with trades without access to the ACE-IT program, which requires you to have access to a college,” explained Stewart. “We have combined our thinking with Selkirk College, the whole idea is to put together a program for our students that entails work readiness and giving them a leg up when they leave high school.”

Stewart stated that they have noticed many students entering directly into the work force, either up north to the oil patch or working around town.

“A very low percentage of our kids actually go on to post-secondary school,” he said. “So how can we provide them with greater opportunities to go out there and get a job and be competitive?”

The specifics of the program would be to engage the students outside of the school timetable, (on Friday), but it would be organized by Selkirk College.

Since the program may occur on a Friday, students at Boundary Central Secondary School can also participate.

Students would receive four credits for graduation, as well as a series of certifications and leadership training.

Though still in the works, the program will have students look at taking WHMIS, first aid, forklift operator, transportation of dangerous goods, supervisor safety management, and leadership component.

“One of the other things we wanted to look at is the leadership component because it’s good enough to give students the certification of different things,” Stewart added. “But when we talk to different employers and we go out to job sites, one of the things they’re pretty keen on is having kids that can take the initiative and work ethic.”

The program hopes to have 10 to 15 students involved.

Estimated costs are roughly $1,400 per student, including all the components, with addition $500 for leadership component.

Two years ago, GFSS has received a $15,000 grant from the Industry Trade Authority (ITA), and received $20,000 from ITA last year.

The grant has been used for support staff and blocks, not just to engage students in apprenticeship but also to start getting the information and interest.

“This is also a move from the ITA to get kids involved in trades and technical training,” said Stewart.

Stewart has asked the school board for $20,000 to help fund the program.

The board is currently discussing Stewart’s proposal.

He pointed out that there would be 100,000 fewer people skilled in trades by 2015 in British Columbia.