Crafty Sooke youth interested in the world of trades are in for a treat: Edward Milne Community School’s Trades and Skill Knowledge program is looking for candidates.
Even better news? Over the last few years, the program has steadily been gaining momentum, with offerings in every trade, from welding, to carpentry, electrical, plumbing, to automotive repair.
The dual-credit course is taught by both EMCS teachers as well as three Camosun College instructors in various disciplines, said Susan Percival, EMCS career centre coordinator, who has helped nurse the course to where it is now.
“We have a section of our wing dedicated to that, and we have examples of projects that we’re working on, that the students are physically building as we speak,” she said, adding there are times when students go to Camosun to use their facilities and bigger shops.
Other times, teachers come to EMCS, and there are community sites where the class engages in real-world building structures on people’s property as a culmination of their learning, Percival noted.
There’s also a work experience component with TASK where students after having gone through a variety of disciplines, might have sparked an interest in becoming a plumber, an electrician, or a carpenter.
Percival’s job is to place the students in a 90-hour work experience position out in the community in the area of their interest.
“It allows them to experience firsthand what they think they want to do and creates a connection with a community employer, who, if they are hiring out for the summer are more likely to hire someone they met and know,” she said, adding that it also serves as the prerequisite experience hours for post-secondary applications.
Some local trades businesses will even formally go through the apprentice program with the students, so they work for the employer, they log their hours with the Industry Training Authority, and then go to school for a module then back to work.
“Over the course of three, five years, depending on their speed, they’ll come out with their tickets in welding or any of the trades they’re apprenticed in,” Percival said.
One former EMCS student, Justin Logan, works as an apprentice at Silver Streak in Sooke, helping build state-of-the-art aluminium boats.
“This is way better than being in any classroom,” he said.
The demand for skilled tradespeople has drastically increased amongst one of the biggest construction booms on Vancouver Island. In Sooke alone last year, there were more than $20 million-worth of building permits issued, the highest the town has seen yet, 97 per cent are residential construction projects.