Creating a pathway that provides high school students the opportunity to grow into post-secondary trades training prior to Grade 12 graduation is the focus of a partnership between Selkirk College and School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake).

The Youth Explore Trades Sampler (YETS) Program is currently underway at Nelson’s Silver King Campus where 15 students from Salmo Secondary School are immersed in activity at the trades-based Selkirk College facility. The students started their hands-on sampling of the trades in February and will wrap up with 12 high school credits by June.

“Trades is a very broad field, so I am very excited to learn the different areas to see where it will take me in my future,” says Grade 11 student Eletta Marsh. “It’s very interesting, I like the vibe and flow. It helps to learn about the college environment before you make a decision to actually attend.”

A province-wide initiative hatched by the Industry Trades Authority (ITA), the YETS Program targets students in Grades 10 and 11. High school students interested in trades get the chance to spend 300 hours on campus in five different shops and finish the semester with a month-long practicum in a field of their choice. Participants get full graduation credits for the semester that would be equivalent to taking four classes at their high school.

The Salmo Secondary students currently enrolled in the program make up half of the rural school’s Grade 11 cohort. Before they complete the program, students will have spent time with Selkirk College instructors in the carpentry, welding, heavy duty mechanics, millwright/machinist and electrical shops.

Even prior to entering the YETS Program, student Shade Oswald had started working on apprenticeship hours for the small engine mechanics trade with Barrett Motorsports & Equipment in Fruitvale. A motocross racer, Oswald jumped at the chance to broaden his knowledge of what opportunities await him in the future.

“It’s cool to be at a college and see the whole scene,” Oswald says. “Getting to understand the other trades a little bit better, that sampling is important. Even if it’s not something I decide to pursue as a career, I get a little bit of knowledge and I can use it in my everyday life.”

Students who take the YETS Program in Grade 10 or 11 have a chance to then take a full foundation program in the trade of their choice through the Youth Train in Trades Program in their Grade 12 year. Both the YETS Program and Youth Train in Trades Program are paid for by the provincial government with additional support from the Kootenay Lake School District and participating schools as needed. No post-secondary tuition is charged to the student.

In a growing partnership between Selkirk College and Kootenay Lake School District, providing program pathways through regional post-secondary is enabling learners to grow both knowledge and experience. Available to all secondary students across the school district, the Youth Train in Trades option is one that requires pre-planning starting in Grade 10. Interested students must have a three-year graduation plan to ladder into the trades program of choice. It takes commitment, but students from Salmo Secondary have been keen to make it happen.     

Learn more about the Youth Explore Trades Sampler Program here:

School District 8