An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially in a high school woodworking class.
That’s why J.L. Crowe’s state-of-the-art table saw called a SawStop is particularly noteworthy – the device has an automatic braking system that stops the saw within milliseconds if its blade comes in contact with the operator’s hand or other body part.
“There is one in Nelson at the trades school there,” explained Terry Hanik, SD20 (School District 20) trustee. “That’s where I had first seen how it works, and I thought it would be a good feature to get in the schools,” Hanik clarified. “It’s a safety feature and new type of saw that if you get your hand or anything else close to it, it will stop and you won’t get a hand cut.”
The SawStop is a first in the school district, though Hanik remains optimistic that a new provincial funding stream could help bring new up-to-date shop machinery to both district secondary schools, J.L. Crowe and Stanley Humphries in Castlegar.
“I heard that there was money the government has set aside for all schools in B.C. for trades, and shops to upgrade,” he said. “So I am hoping because some of the equipment is the same stuff as when I went to school, so it’s time for a change and upgrade on this equipment,” he added. “Since we have such as good trades system for these kids to move on, it only seems right that we have good equipment for them so they can move on.”
Hanik was referencing the province’s recent $15 million boost for B.C. secondary schools to upgrade trades equipment in support of youth trades programs.
Replacing older tools, heavy machinery, work tables, benches, and devices like sawdust collectors are eligible for the grant as well as outdated equipment like cooktop ventilation systems.
The new funding is a complement to the newly revised youth trades-training programs, which are now available as early as Grade 10. The programs are meant to map out a clear path for youth to start their trades training earlier in high school, through post-secondary, and into the workforce where they can continue an apprenticeship.
Crowe students have the opportunity for classes in wood shop, metal work, electronics and a renovation academy every second year. A robotics course is also now available, on Friday the school was installing a 3D printer.
But other trades such as auto mechanics, metal fabrication, millwright and machinists are available through ACE-IT (Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training) and require travel outside the high school – mostly to the Selkirk College Campus in Nelson.
ACE-IT is a government-sponsored program for high-school students, providing courses for both high-school graduation credits and a head start towards completion of an apprenticeship program.
B.C. has reached a tipping point with fewer young people entering the workforce than older workers leaving it, according to the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training.
That is why the government is re-engineering education and training programs to ensure that investments align with the needs of B.C.’s rapidly changing labour market, so that more British Columbians have the skills they need to be first in line for in-demand jobs.