PRINCE GEORGE – Prince George School District is one of 26 districts across B.C. that will receive funding from the Industry Training Authority (ITA) to continue the district’s Secondary School Apprenticeship (SSA) Program for the 2014/15 school year.

$30,000 will help fund the Prince George School District’s (SD 57) SSA program, a dual-credit program that allows students who are 15 years of age and over, in Grades 10, 11, or 12, to begin the work-based training component of an apprenticeship program while still in high school.

“We are working to do everything we can to ensure that young people are equipped for careers in our growing economy,” says Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and MLA for Prince George-Valemount. “By giving students exposure to trades training in high school, they will be able to prepare sooner for tomorrow’s in-demand jobs.”

“The Secondary School Apprenticeship program, a unique dual-credit program, is both a practical and efficient way for our students to get experience while still in school,” says Mike Morris, MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie. “That’s beneficial for our students and for the economic future of our province.”

Through SSA programs, students “earn while they learn”, receiving credit toward both a high school diploma and an apprenticeship. In 2013/14, there were 952 new students registered in SSA programs across BC, representing a 7.5 percent increase from the previous school year. As of October 31, 2014, there are a total of 1,732 youth apprentices registered in SSA programs in the province.

Finding an employer who will sponsor their apprenticeship is one of the biggest challenges facing youth looking for a career in the trades. Today’s ITA funding will help school districts cover staffing costs that will support and guide youth through the B.C. apprenticeship system by helping them to secure jobs and employer sponsorship. This funding will also help youth transition from technical training to work-based training, and build further awareness of opportunities in the skilled trades among youth, parents, educators and employers in their communities.

“Building a skilled workforce for the future depends on the youth of today,” says Erin Johnston, Director, Training Investment. “Our goal is to support the B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint objective and increase youth participation for continuing into apprenticeship and a skilled trades career by making sure we are providing the best support to youth along the apprenticeship pathway.”

ITA’s youth programs focus on awareness building, practical work experience, and apprenticeship technical training. For more information on the youth programs ITA offers, go to www.itabc.ca/youth.