Graduates from the Secondary School Apprenticeship (SSA) program gathered for a lunch at Brooks Secondary School on Thursday, April 28 to celebrate their achievements and receive scholarship cheques.
Former students who are now welders, carpenters, hairdressers, chefs, automotive mechanics, cosmetologists and other tradespersons came to the lunch to eat food prepared by current culinary arts students and to be commended for their work. These youth have all left school and gone on to work in the field they were trained in during high school. All received a $1,000 scholarship from the ministry of education for completing the program with at least a C+ average and with 1,100 hours of on-the-job training.
“It’s very nice for us to be able to help celebrate in some of the success of our graduates,” said Troy Marshall, dual credit coordinator for School District 47, to the students. “This scholarship, you earned it, it’s something that you did, it’s not us. The school district certainly, we celebrate your success because your success is good in our success, you make us look good.”
At the lunch, Marshall also spoke about an update for the incentive program for businesses to hire and train young workers. Through the Youth Skills BC Workplace Pilot Project, BC businesses that hire workers between the ages of 15 and 29 are now eligible to receive a $2,000 hiring incentive, along with an additional $1,000 to go toward training activities. The program will put $3 million into employing young workers provincially and runs until March 2012. If successful the government plans to extend it until 2014.
Marshall said that through SSA students can delve into a far greater number of fields through on-the-job training than they are able to explore through school programs, which require a certain number of students to run. Anything from sheet metal work to meat cutting to gas fitting to numerous other trades can be pursued through the SSA program. Next school year Marshall said around 50 per cent of grade 12 students will earn dual credits.
Of 60 school districts in the province only four have the level of dual credit programming that School District 47 offers. Vancouver Island school districts hired Marshall as a coordinator purely because they want to be able to offer similar options to students.
“We’ve been at this for six years and it’s just so rewarding to see them after we’re done, that they’re out there and they’re working and the training that they took is actually giving them a career and allowing them to succeed,” said Marshall. “That’s really helpful for us and rewarding. It’s great, I mean look at the smiling faces.”
Miranda Price took the culinary arts program while still a student at Brooks and graduated with levels one and two completed, giving her a leg up for post-secondary options. She is working as a cook at Tim Hortons, baking and saving money so that she can go back to school and continue on with her culinary arts education.
“It’s awesome to be able to come out of high school with that qualification and go get a job anywhere,” said Price. For students considering going into an SSA program Price advised “Go for it, take the chance and just do it. You won’t regret it. It’s a lot of fun and you learn a lot.”
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Julie Hadden Bliss Salon - Cosmetology
Miranda Price Tim Hortons - Culinary Arts
Sergei Woewoda El's Auto Tec. Ltd. - Auto Service Tech
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Megan Vallier Swiftsure Restaurant & Lounge (Victoria BC) - Culinary Arts
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Erin MacLean Image 1 Salon - Cosmetology
Melina Sparks George Third & Son Ltd. (Vancouver) - Welding
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Travis Christensen Christensen Logging - Welding