Trades students preparing today for their tomorrow

Lake Cowichan Secondary School offers two programs that will help your high school student get a jump start on their career.

Cameron Girard

Cameron Girard

Is your child in Grades 10 to 12?  You may not know this, but Lake Cowichan Secondary School offers two programs in conjunction with Vancouver Island University in Duncan, the Industry Trade Association, and Camosun College in Victoria, which will help your high school student get a jump start on their career.

The first program is a provincial career program called Secondary School Apprenticeship. This program brings together students and potential employers through hands-on training in trade careers.

If your child is already working under the supervision of a qualified [Red-Seal] journeyman supervisor, they are eligible to register with the Industry Trade Association to earn credits towards graduation, as well as get started on an apprenticeship while still in school. However, they don’t have to already be working for someone in trades, they can start today by talking to their school counselors.

Eligibility requirements for the SSA program are that students must be paid, work in a recognized trade and with a qualified tradesperson, complete the required registration form, and have the employer track their work-based hours. Not only will students be earning their own money, but this program advances them in their career exponentially.

Another “bonus” worth mentioning is that if the student maintains a C+ average, they are awarded a $1000 scholarship to assist in purchasing tools and so on for their chosen trade.

The second program is called Accelerated Credit Enrollment in Industry Training or ACE-IT.  This program is an industry training program done at the high school, and like the SSA program, it offers both graduation credits as well as a head start towards completion of an apprentice program. Students that complete either one or both of the above programs are more likely to be successful in finding post high school employment.

Students can enroll in both the ACE-IT and the SSA program and are well on their way to the completion of their first year of post-secondary school by the time they graduate.

Teachers and counselors are getting the word out to their students in as many ways as they can. These programs are included in the daily announcements, and they have grade wide meetings to discuss career options and opportunities through these programs.

“The whole career program at LCSS is important for the community and for our kids,” says student councillor, Pat Biello.  LCSS’s career clerk, Jan Devana, also works with the kids to get started on these programs. “Parents, if your kids are going into Grade 10 or 11, this is the time to start looking into these programs.” says Devana.

Many local businesses in the Lake Cowichan area have already been stepping up to the plate to help advance our students in their careers.  WFO, Daly’s, Country Grocer, Link Hair Salon, Remedy Hair Salon, Duncan Iron Works, Western Star, Lakeshore Dental, Indora Electric, and Hartshorn Mechanical are just some of noteworthy business participating and opening up their doors to students.

Currently LCSS has three kids in Chemainus doing carpentry, one male student at Camosun College in Victoria doing the mechanical foundations, which is a dual credit course, and four female students in the hair dressing program in Duncan, which is a one-year course and provides 42 credits towards graduation. Considering students that are between Grades 10-12 need only 80 credits to graduate, one can see how far these programs can actually take them.

Alongside credits and experience, because these kids are still in high school, these programs are completely sponsored and paid for by Camosun College and Vancouver Island University.

“There are girls that have graduated and applied to get into the hair dressing program and there is a two year wait list,” says Biello, “and here are four girls already in it because they are high school students, and its free.” he adds.

LCSS is thankful to the local area businesses that have facilitated our children in succeeding in the trades industry and would also like to encourage other businesses to get involved. This is a time when businesses are working with limited resources so it can be difficult to do, however, this program is invaluable to the future of our students, and therefore, Lake Cowichan.

Dual credit offerings for the current school year are Carpentry, Culinary Arts, Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning/Refrigeration, Health Care Assistant, Auto Service Tech, Heavy Duty Mechanic, and Hair Dressing. There are a limited number of seats available in the programs and an admission process must be followed.

If you are a parent, student, or local business that would like more information on how to get started, contact Pat Biello or Jan Devana at LCSS today or check out the ITA website at