When Rico Alves graduated from high school, he was already well on his way to becoming a journeyman carpenter. After learning that he loved to work with wood in Grade 11, he entered the Central Okanagan School District’s dual credit program in Grade 12, beginning his schooling as a first year carpentry student.
By September after his graduation he was into his second year of trades’ schooling and by the time he was 21, he was a journeyman carpenter making enough money to purchase his first home.
“It was fantastic,” Alves said this week, recalling the start of his venture into earning a trade as a high school student. “If you get your trade, you will always have it as something to fall back on. It was unbelievable. I was making money and didn’t have to take student loans.”
Alves’ trip through the Central Okanagan School District’s dual credit program was in the mid 1990s when the program was just beginning. In fact he was the first graduate from the program that offers trades’ training at several different schools and now runs his own construction company.
The dual credit program has grown since then with the school district offering plenty of different programs for students looking to get started on a trade or with specific skills. Those programs include all entry level trades, computer information systems administration, hairdressing, forestry, culinary arts, emergency medical responder, firefighting and more.
The school district is holding an information session on Thursday night for parents and students interested in the programs from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Hollywood Road Education Services building.
Dual credit program coordinator Bob Boback says the program offers students a chance to get directly into fields that don’t require university or college education.
“We’re recognizing that some of these students, by the time they are in Grade 11 or 12, they know they don’t want to go to university, they want to get started on a career and they want to use both their head and their hands,” said Boback. “It’s a different pathway and over the last decade it’s really been been built up. BCIT was our first partner and shortly after that Okanagan College saw the value in it and we have working partnerships with both those institutions.”
Boback says students who are interested in the dual credit programs should be thinking about it as they are moving through the grades and taking electives such as wood shop or metal work to see if there interest is sparked in a certain field.
The Thursday meeting is for parents and students in Grade 10 to 12.
“If parents and students are thinking about this as a possible route, we just want them to have the information so they can make some informed choices. So as they are moving through high school they are taking courses that will allow them to take advantage of the dual credit program,” he said.
By the time a student is in Grade 12, they will have acquired most of the credits to graduate and can easily move into a dual credit program and start working towards a career.
For Rico Alves, it was a decision to get started that saw him become a journeyman carpenter at a young age. He was a foreman in his early 20s and now 37, he has his own company—Alves Bros. Contracting—and also has some young apprentices working under him.
“In the trades you’re not sitting there in a classroom trying to find yourself,” he said. “Taking the dual credit program was a huge benefit to me.”
The dual credit program meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Hollywood Road Education Services.
There is information online about he program at careerlifeprograms.com.