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Youth WORK in trades apprenticeship students site visit

VSB visitors at the construction site

“Being in the classroom is only one way to graduate,” says Mark Reid, Career Program teacher with the Vancouver School Board.

On Feb. 2, members from VSB, including superintendent Helen McGregor, took a special trip to visit students and recent graduates who were hard at work in their apprenticeships at the Richmond Centre project. Ranging from electrical, plumbing and sheet metal working, these apprenticeships are known as Youth WORK in Trades programs.

Youth WORK in Trades is one of four programs offered by VSB Career Programs, in partnership with SkilledTradesBC. Through the program, students earn credits toward apprenticeship and secondary school graduation while working part-time in the skilled trade of their choice. These apprenticeships are often an alternative path to graduation for students who thrive in more active learning environments and who are interested in getting a head start on their careers. The apprentices are employed by OZZ Electric, Pitt Meadows Plumbing and Evergreen Sheet Metal — three businesses with membership in the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA).

This visit marks the first time a VSB superintendent has watched these student apprentices at work. After securing their hard hats and pulling on their safety vests, the VSB visitors were ready to enter the site and meet the apprentices. 

“I’ve just worked here for seven months, and I already know so much. When I first [got here], I didn’t even know how to drill,” grade 12 student, Yaroslav (Yaro) Klishchuk tells superintendent McGregor, pointing to his work. “I like it.”

Yaro is an electrician with OZZ Electric. The dedication and real-life experience gained by the apprentices is apparent, with each student working vigorously toward achieving their goals. As drills whirl and hammer nails clank, they are actively learning while setting themselves up for success – for graduation and beyond.

“I’ve been on about four different crews. I’ve been learning a lot. I can ask questions and everything, everybody is here to help you,” says Sanjeev Dhaliwal, a recent graduate who now works as a plumber with Pitt Meadows Plumbing. 

Edwin Peng is another student apprentice on-site. Formally a student at Vancouver Technical Secondary, Edwin is now a part of the Adult Education program at South Hill Education Centre. The program enables this grade 12 student to work four days a week as a sheet metal worker for Evergreen Sheet Metal and spend one day a week in the classroom

“I have about 800 hours so far,” Edwin tells superintendent McGregor, smiling. 

Edwin is reserved for level 1 sheet metal training in January, furthering his trade development.

Finding the right path toward graduation and beyond is unique to each student, making programs such as Youth WORK in Trades essential for those looking to learn outside of the classroom. It’s no wonder why VSB Career Programs registered more than 140 apprentices in the 2022-2023 school year — the highest volume of registrations ever recorded by a single school district in a single school year. 

There can be a hidden apprentice inside anyone. Think your child could be one of them? Discover more about VSB Career Programs to learn if a path apprenticeship training could be right for your child.

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