Provincial grant provides trades mentoring for Nanaimo students

NANAIMO – Trades training will get a boost, thanks to $17,500 from the B.C. Ministry of Education.

Nanaimo school district trades training will get a boost thanks to $17,500 from the B.C. Ministry of Education.

The Shoulder Tappers Program money helps students gain job skills with assistance from knowledgable people, such as specialists and coordinators. Nanaimo school district will use money to hire extra support to work with Grades 6 and 7 students, introducing them to trades, said Derek Beeston, district Career Pathways and Learning Alternatives principal.

An example of this took place at Brechin Elementary School when a Snuneymuxw elder carved a paddle for the school’s entranceway and the principal thought it would be fitting to carve smaller paddles as souvenirs for students, said Beeston.

“So we took our C02 laser over there and they designed the paddle and cut out little C02 things for each kid. We also do things like build planters, birdhouses … We take senior kids over with us to work as mentors and they work with groups of Grade 6 and 7s and we’ve gone as low as Grade 4 or 5,” Beeston said.

Money will also go toward provision of trades program information sessions, promotion of work experience programs and secondary school apprenticeship programs. The aim is to get more students aware of the opportunities and increase awareness that the programs exist, said Beeston.

“We have so many students out there that are working under a journeyman right now that don’t realize they could be getting up to 16 school credits towards their graduation, plus a grant for $1,000, just by continuing the work they’re doing already.

“It’s just a matter of identifying those kids and getting them signed up under the program and signing up their companies,” Beeston said.

Information sessions take place Tuesday nights at Nanaimo District Secondary School beginning at 6 p.m.