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Top Student Award winner John Kerrigan and fellow students celebrate graduating from a new B.C. pilot program called Alternative Pathways to Electrical Careers.

Aboriginal youth complete B.C. electrician training pilot program


A group of aboriginal students from across British Columbia have recently completed the successful pilot testing of a streamlined program designed to bring them into the electrical trades.

The Alternate Pathways to Electrical Careers program, endorsed by industry and government, represents a new approach to skilled trades entry.

"There have been a lot of First Nations youth who haven't been able to meet entry requirements to get into our entry level trades training program," said Andy Cleven, training director for B.C.'s Electrical Joint Training Committee (EJTC).

The EJTC wanted to engage more youth in their trade but was finding some students coming out of school did not have the high levels of math and science skills required.

"We want to bring people into the trade who will be successful," he said. "It is a trade where you have to be comfortable working with your hands, thinking with your mind. It is a physical trade, it is a wonderful trade and we don't want to bring people into the system and have them not succeed."

Success leads to green light for more students
Due to the success of the project, it has been given the green light to do another round of students. Cleven said much of the program's success was due to it being industry driven.

The program began in January. A selected group of students from Aboriginal backgrounds received individualized training from SkillPlan instructors in math, science and english skills required for electrical apprenticeship.

"We were more than pleased by the energy and excitement these students brought to our training centre," said Graham Trafford, president of the EJTC in a press release. "They've helped to show that an essential skills approach to electrical trades entry can be a practical alternative to the more common option, which is to return to high school to pick up missing credits."

After the graduation ceremony for the 14 students who completed the instructional part of the training, they embarked on 10 weeks of paid work experience.

Story condensed from the Journal of Commerce.

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