Kamloops students hoping to enter the trades industry can now get a financial boost through provincial awards that used to go to academic students.
B.C. is reprioritizing scholarships to focus less on academic students and more on trades, according Alison Sidow, assistant superintendent of the Kamloops-Thompson School District.
Sidow said Minister of Education George Abbott delivered the news during the B.C. School Superintendent Association summer leadership conference in Kelowna last weekend.
In response to a request for details, a Ministry of Education spokesperson said the minister was simply “updating the superintendents” on the issue and wasn’t ready to make an announcement yet.
According to Sidow, the province will now cap the number of $1,000 dogwood district authority awards for students in traditional academic programs and increase to 5,500 from 3,000 the number of awards going to students in trades and the arts.
Sidow said the shift in priorities bodes well for Kamloops, which is already ahead of the curve since the district has “aggressive targets” for increasing the number of students who enter the trades either in their Grade 12 year through some kind of a partnership with post secondary institutions like Thompson Rivers University or through secondary school apprenticeship type programs.
“We’re well on our way in that area,” she said. “I think an emphasis on that will just strengthen where Kamloops is already headed.”
The shift recognizes that B.C. is in need of trade industry workers and it ensures that youth leave secondary school ready to “enter the meaningful and relevant education leading to a potential job,” said Sidow.
The shift also recognizes that the trades also require higher-level academic education, said Sidow.
“It takes a lot of skill and it takes a lot of commitment on behalf of students to pursue their trades.”
Greg Howard, school district trades and transitions principal, said he’s thrilled by the announcement.
“Anything that’s going to help our students specifically in those areas — wow, that’s fantastic,” said Howard.
He said it adds to other measures the province has taken to address the need for trades education. And those efforts are trickling down.
“The students and I believe that the community as a whole are starting to see that trades are a viable way to new careers.”