Building pathways to careers

Shoulder Tappers program expanded to include 100 Mile House

B.C. Education Minister Mike Bernier

B.C. Education Minister Mike Bernier

Students in the Cariboo-Chilcotin are among those expected to benefit from the expansion of a program designed to prepare students to fill the tens of thousands of job openings the provincial government expects to see in northern British Columbia in the coming years.

The Shoulder Tappers program, which started in the province’s northeast, has expanded to 15 school districts throughout central and northern B.C.

The B.C. Liberal government and the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) are providing a combined $4.9-million over five years toward the program, which connects students with pathways to jobs and the education system with industry.

Shoulder Tappers are career co-ordinators or recruitment specialists who work with elementary and secondary school students. The program has grown to incorporate technical, academic and vocational courses, such as aircraft engineering, heavy-duty mechanics, information technology, early childhood education and others.

Shoulder Tappers are connected with teachers, students, industry partners, local businesses, aboriginal bands, and communities, explains School District #27 (SD27) career programs co-ordinator David Corbett.

Bree Odd of 100 Mile House was recently hired by SD27 to work with Corbett as a “shoulder tapper.”

Corbett says they will now be able to more effectively fulfil their goal of helping students find the right careers.

“An extra benefit is having Bree living in 100 Mile. It’s already a natural network we can start to grow better, so north and south are getting more connected, which is a really great thing we can do as a school district.”

In 100 Mile House, there are currently two students gaining practical experience towards a future career in a health-care assistant program run by Thompson Rivers University and one heavy duty mechanic student in the ACE IT (Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training) program.

Four more students are set to join ACE IT in February and will be getting hands on experience in the welding and electrical fields.

Odd has experience working with the Youth Employment Services program, specializing in career counselling and job placement for youth.

An upcoming event she is organizing is the YES 2 IT event at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School in 100 Mile House on Jan. 28, which invites elementary school students to “test-drive the trades” by working in five different areas – welding, carpentry, plumbing, electrical and mechanics – throughout the day.

“I’m looking forward to making a lot of new connections and networking to keep assisting the students in building a successful future for themselves,” Odd says.

“Sometimes that requires people like David and myself and the rest of our career programs teams in 100 Mile and Williams Lake to push forward, and to continue talking with students and making connections with business and industry in town.”