Eighty Grade 8 and 9 students from across the West Kootenay descended upon Teck Metals Ltd. in Trail last Wednesday to learn about careers in the trades during the first “Trades in Action Day.”
“It’s amazing for the kids to see it in action in a real trade setting,” Jan Morton, director of community education for School District 20 (SD20) said. “We’ve got to get their interest while they’re young.”
Of the 80 students who attended, 13 were from Stanley Humphries Secondary School.
Students were able to choose four different trades to explore during their time at Teck, including industrial electrician, pipefitter/steamfitter, machinist, millwright, carpenter, welder, steel fabrication, refrigeration and bricklayer.
Michelle Skelly, communication manager for the Resource Training Organization said there is a misconception among youth that working in the trades is a “fall back” instead of going to university.
What they’ve been teaching the students, rather, is that for many trades you need to stay in school to keep up in math and physics to qualify for training programs.
For some trades, students are even able to start earning their college credits while still in high school.
Currently, there are 45 apprentices at Teck, many of which the students were able to meet and ask questions of.
Luch Dalla Lana, trade co-ordinator for Teck said in the past three years, said 29 apprentices have graduated and been hired in Trail fulltime.
“It gives us a great opportunity to showcase our tradespeople,” Carol Vanelli Worosz, communications manager for Teck said.
Ten girls took part in the visit, and first-year steel fabrication apprentice Michelle Milligan went from station to station to visit each one.
“I’m just letting them know that other girls work in this environment and we’re just as strong — if not stronger,” she said.
Milligan left a serving job while trying to raise three children to find a more stable career in the trades.
This event was the first of its kind at Teck. Skelly said they have held similar events in Cranbrook with much success.
A Youth Exploring Skills to Industry Training (YES 2 IT) event as well, a partnership was organized between Teck Trail Operations, SD20, SD8, the Resource Training Organization, Selkirk College, the Skills Centre, the Industry Training Authority and the Ministry of Education.
“YES 2 IT is an opportunity to showcase and promote the apprenticeable trades as exciting and rewarding career options,” Skelly said.
SD20 currently offers a millwright-machinist program in Nelson, carpentry, welding and electric, as well as professional cooks training and hairdressing. Other programs that can be started in high school for entry into Selkirk College are fine woodworking, general mechanics, esthetics, plant operator and welding.