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Hands-on learning for youth to explore the trades

On , In General, College News, Students

Tags: trades

As the program winds down for another semester, students in Explore Trades for Youth have learned more than just how to wire a plug or use a welding torch.

Many discovered they prefer to learn by working with their hands instead of sitting at a desk, which can open doors they may not have considered before.

Josh Klassen, the Fort St. John instructor, says this is what makes the program so great.

“Most of these students end up doing some future trades training, like probably 80-90 per cent end up back in a level 1 or a foundation program,” he said. “It’s really effective.

Explore Trades for Youth students hard at work in the Dawson Creek shop.

He added with a laugh that many of his students are almost dreading going back to their regular classrooms after spending a semester in the shop.

Dawson Creek instructor Andy Bond wouldn’t be surprised by that sentiment.

“These kids love the hands-on aspect of this program, they’re so excited to be in the shop and working with their hands.” Andy finds that he must remind his students that it’s lunchtime and they need to go have their break because they’re so involved with what they’re doing in the shop.

In this sampler program, high school students from Grades 9 to 12 can experience different trade pathways offered at Northern Lights College. It’s an excellent opportunity for students to get an idea of a trade they might like to pursue as a career. While there’s plenty of time spent working in the shop, there is still some classroom time where students learn theory, much like they would in a foundation program.

Students in the program get to try carpentry, welding, electrical, plumbing, and mechanics. If they’re taking it in Dawson Creek, they’ll also have a chance to try cooking along with the other trades.

Fort St. John Explore Trades for Youth students show off the crates they built for the FSJ Hospital Foundation.

Some trades, like carpentry and welding, allow for the students to create items they can take home or use as gifts like birdhouses, cutting boards, name plates, or metal sculptures. When the opportunity arises, students will also make items for a group or organization. In October, the Fort St. John class made small crates that were donated to the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation for use at the Be an Angel fundraising gala. Over the years, students have made flower boxes, dog houses, sign boards, and other items that not only give them the experience, but also help the community.

Not only is it a learning opportunity for the students, but the instructors learn a thing or two themselves.

“I learn more every day as a teacher,” said Andy. “I’m getting educated every day.”

The next intake for the Explore Trades for Youth program is in February 2024 for the Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, and Fort St. John campuses.

To learn more, visit the Explore Trades for Youth page.