26 Apr

Changing Students’ Lives

Did you know that Alberta has a high school dropout rate of over 10,000 students every year? Or that it is predicted Alberta will experience a shortage of 45,000 skilled trades workers by 2025? The Educational Partnership (TEPF) is helping solve both these issues with our new Trades Careers program.

Through the TEPF Trades Careers program, high school students in Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge are being taught by journeyman trades people to tie rebar, weld or read technical instructions at off-campus, first-class Union training facilities.

TEPF has worked very hard to bring together Unions, the Alberta Government, School Districts, teachers, students and corporate businesses to launch this unique and effective program.  The pilot program launched in 2018 by offering Ironworkers and Pipefitters education in Calgary, Ironworkers education in Lethbridge, and Ironworkers, Pipefitters and Millwrights education in Edmonton. In total, 51 grade 11 and 12 students completed the program.

“It’s incredible how much going to a training school can change your entire perspective,” says Brandon a graduate of the pilot program, who was struggling in the traditional classroom setting, and has gone on to graduate and pursue a trade career.

Teachers and administrators also agree that the program is extremely valuable and making a difference in students’ lives.

“Although many of the students struggle in an academic setting they have flourished and excelled in these programs. Giving them the opportunity to see what future lays beyond high school is a valuable opportunity that helps them re-engage in high school with new hope for the future,” explains Jack James High School Learning Leader, Guidance.

We know that the program is not only keeping students in school, but it is helping students to go directly from high school into a career.

 “Our pilot program statistics showed that over 50% of our students have been hired for summer employment or indentured.” explains Barb Simic, TEPF President and CEO.

The Trades Careers training started again in early 2019 by offering all the courses that were launched in the pilot year. Right now, 49 Alberta students are experiencing the hands-on learning only a first-class trade Union facility with a journeyman as a teacher can provide.

“The Ironworkers program was an experiment for all of us at Jack James High School.  It was presented to us as an opportunity to provide exposure to the work world of the ironworker for our students,” explains Assistant Principal of Jack James High School, adding, “This program changed their (students) lives. I cannot say enough positive things about this program.”

TEPF is looking forward to expanding the Trades Careers program to other Alberta locations and continuing to positively impact students across Alberta for years to come.

Thank you Government of Alberta, Workforce Development Trust, RBC Foundation and Pipefitters UA 796, Ironworkers Local 725, Pipefitters Edmonton Local 488, Millwrights Edmonton Local 1480 and Ironworkers Edmonton Local 720 for supporting the Trades Careers.