North Island high schools will soon be getting new shop equipment.
Port Hardy Secondary School (PHSS) and North Island Secondary School (NISS) will be splitting $134,345 from the Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Skills Training and the Ministry of Education in liaison with the Industry Training Authority.
PHSS Principal Rena Sweeney said the grant funding “will allow us to replace some of the older equipment in the PHSS shops, beginning with the purchase of a milling machine this year. We are appreciative of this opportunity to further enhance our students’ learning in the trades and to better prepare them for post secondary trades training and careers.”
NISS Principal Jay Dixon said the grant funding was applied for back in December.
“Rena Sweeney, Kevin McGhee (PHSS shop teacher), myself and John Bramham (NISS shop teacher) put together a proposal, and we were happy to learn that many of the items on the proposal were approved,” said Dixon.
“For small rural schools, this is a lot of money.”
Bramham said the funding will be released through a three-year plan.
“For the first year they’ve given us permission to buy two or three metal lathes, a drill press, and a table saw for the wood shop,” said Bramham.
“The machinery we’re replacing is quite old, some of it has been here for 40 years.”
Dixon agreed, saying NISS has “been able to maintain some of our older equipment, but some of it doesn’t connect to what’s actually used in the workforce today – so our students will soon be able to start learning on equipment that they will be using in shops outside of the school.”
Dixon added the trades are a popular choice here on the North Island for students, “and with our growing apprenticeships that are starting to happen, this is an opportunity for them to use new equipment and build a little bit of excitement around what is happening inside their shop classes.”
The plan is for the new equipment to be usable by September.
The grant funding came from a three-year, $15-million investment by the provincial government into B.C.’s rural regions.
The funding will aid in the purchase of new trades training equipment to support youth trades programs.
The Youth Trades Capital Equipment Program enables school districts to replace or upgrade equipment for their schools’ trades programs.
The program will see $7.5 million dispersed during the current school year to 59 school districts throughout British Columbia. The remaining $7.5 million will be distributed in the 2017-18 ($4 million) and 2018-19 ($3.5 million) school years.
Over the three-year program, more than $9 million of the total $15-million fund will be distributed to B.C.’s 42 rural school districts.
According to a provincial government news release, this investment in rural communities supports the recently-announced rural economic development strategy.
The government said the Youth Trades Capital Equipment Program is designed to:
• Increase participation and successful completion of youth-trades programs and the number of students that continue on to further trades-training programs;
• Ensure school districts have safe and appropriate modern trades equipment to support the delivery of trades-training programs;
• Gain a better understanding of current inventory and future need for youth-trades equipment in each district.
To be eligible for funding, school districts must have demonstrated that the capital investment supports the delivery of one or more Industry Training Authority (ITA) youth trades programs.
In partnership with the Ministry of Education and secondary schools, the ITA funds six youth programs in B.C. – Youth Discover the Maker Way, Youth Discover the Trades, Youth Explore Trades Skills, Youth Explore Trades Sampler, Youth Train in Trades and Youth Work in Trades.
The government said these programs 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.
The ITA leads and co-ordinates British Columbia’s skilled trades system by working with employers, employees, industry, labour, training providers and government to issue credentials, manage apprenticeships, set program standards and increase opportunities in the trades.
Apprenticeship programs are one of the best ways for British Columbians to gain the skills and training they need to succeed in their chosen career, according to the release. It is estimated 80 per cent of training takes place on the work site and 20 per cent takes place in the class.