School District 22 students recently toured the Tolko Lavington Division plant to see first-hand what career opportunities are available in trades at a local major employer.
The group of 24 was comprised mostly of students interested in applying to a Dual Credit/Trades Foundation program and also included forestry program students.
If accepted, dual credit students will spend a full semester at their program of choice where they will have their tuition paid for by the school district and acquire level one technical training towards their journeyman status.
The district’s main training provider is Okanagan College, which offers a number of trade programs locally, including plumbing, electrical, welding, residential construction, and aircraft maintenance. There are many other trade offerings at the Okanagan College campus in Kelowna.
An important part of the application process is career exploration. Students need to show they have thoroughly investigated their trade of choice before committing to the six- month foundation program and spending an entire semester away from their home school.
Part of the application includes career research, interviewing a journeyman in the occupation of choice, and spending time in either a job shadow, student for a day, on a tour, or at a career fair.
“We want our students going into these programs with eyes wide open, making informed decisions on what they’re committing to so they have the best chance at success,” said Tim Thorpe, career coordinator with School District 22.
Tolko assisted students with their research by hosting the trades day mill tour. Human resources coordinator Brandi Rusk organized the event, where students toured the mill and had the opportunity to meet with journeymen in several trades, including millwright Gord Martin, saw filer Matt Graves, welder Jeff Winegard, electrician Scott Kowalski and heavy duty mechanic Joe Bukowsky.
It was also an opportunity for the tradespeople to show off their skills and pass on some knowledge to the next generation,
“It was very encouraging to see how engaged the students were, and how interested they were in the trades program,” said Martin, millwright chargehand. “I look forward to doing it again next year.”
Thorpe said Tolko did an amazing job of hosting the students.
“We were very impressed with the knowledge and presentation skills of all of the people involved,” he said. “The information that our students received is extremely valuable and we really appreciate them having us for this day.”
In addition to hosting students for the career exploration tour, Tolko has also supported the district’s forestry program run out of Charles Bloom secondary.
“Tolko graciously donated time and maintenance towards our skidder,” said Thorpe. “They changed all of the fluids and did a fluid analysis, as well as adjusted the emergency brake, and even delivered it back to our wood lot.
“Huge thanks to Tolko, and specifically to Rich of the White Valley Division for doing this work and supporting our program in this way.”
For more information on Dual Credit/Trades Foundation programs, contact your school’s career coordinator or visit the website: www.sd22.bc.ca/Programs/career/Pages/default.aspx