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Industry Voices: Trade up for success during this back-to-school season

Gary Herman
Industry Voices: Trade up for success during this back-to-school season

There’s a reason so much emphasis is put on back-to-school shopping and it’s not just because kids need new backpacks or pencil cases. It’s a feeling that transcends the classroom.

Whether it’s a new haircut, or buying a new briefcase to help you feel more prepared for the tasks of a new course schedule or job, we all want to set ourselves up for success.

The provincial economy continues to lead the nation, and the students of today will soon be tasked with continuing that legacy.

This September, students of all ages across British Columbia will be familiarizing themselves with new schedules, teachers, textbooks and classmates — the only question will be where they focus their studies.

British Columbia has reached a tipping point in its history where fewer youth are entering the workforce compared to those leaving it.

And, because much of this is attributed to the ongoing retirement of the baby boomer generation, B.C. is poised to have an abundance of job openings over the next decade. In fact, many of them are anticipated to be trades occupations, a strong majority of which will require apprenticeship training.

To that end, the Industry Training Authority (ITA) has been systematically expanding and enhancing their youth trades training programs, allowing students to discover, explore, train and work in the trades earlier in their school years.

The cohesive and streamlined nature of ITA Youth Trades Programs give students a head start on their career and enables them to earn while they learn and enter the workforce at a quicker pace without compromising the hands-on component of their education.

The four programs, delivered in partnership with the Ministry of Education, are focused on building awareness of skilled trades careers, practical work experience and apprenticeship technical training for students of all ages. The four programs are as follows:

Discover the Trades provides meaningful, hands-on opportunities for students, as early as Grade 5, to explore career options so they can choose a career direction based on their strengths.

Explore the Trades gives students a chance to try out different trades. Students also gain practical skills and even complete certifications that trade employers are looking for.

Train in Trades is a dual credit program for Grades 10 to 12 that allows students to earn credits towards high school graduation and level one of technical training towards an apprenticeship.

Work in Trades is a dual credit program for Grades 11 and 12 that allows students to begin the work-based training component of an apprenticeship program while still in high school.

By 2018-19, ITA’s Youth Trades Programs will connect more than 5,000 students each year with skilled trades training, setting up a clearly defined pathway to obtaining certification and making their mark on skilled trades markets booming with economic activity, growth opportunities and innovative thinking. Participation in ITA’s Youth Trades Programs has increased by 457 per cent from 861 participants in December 2004 to 4,796 participants in June 2017.

While the numbers speak for themselves, it should come as no surprise that in the age of opportunity, students are taking their passions and pursuing them wholeheartedly from an early age.

The world is bigger than it’s ever been for youth looking to start their career because it is so accessible and ITA is there to help you every step of the way. Send comments or questions to

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