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Trades training benefits students and coastal community

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BRITISH COLUMBIA, Canada – A group of students from Kitamaat Village are gaining valuable skills and contributing to the infrastructure of their community thanks to a partnership between Kitamaat Village Band Council, Northwest Community College and the Kitimat Valley Institute Corporation.

The 17 students are enrolled in a hybrid trades course combining two standalone trades offerings – Residential Building Maintenance Worker Level One and Carpentry Foundation.

The class is finishing work on a community smoke house and, according to NWCC Trades Chair Brian Badge, there are tentative plans to also build a community green house and up to three bus shelters.

Instructor Mark O’Hara, who led a successful first offering of this combined trades course in Masset on Haida Gwaii in 2008, is again the instructor in Kitamaat Village.

He said there have been some changes to the curriculum to make the program as practical as possible.

“We’re giving students a broader base of skills,” he said. “They’re learning subtrades, such as drywalling, painting, building envelopes and mold prevention techniques – these are all important skills to have in First Nations communities.”

The course, which started in March and runs through early October, is another example of how NWCC continues to expand its community-based programs delivery by bringing the training to students in college communities throughout the Northwest. These programs emphasize NWCC’s commitment to building capacity within northern communities and the importance of knowledge acquired by learning through experience.

Student Ed Ross, a ticketed bridge watchman who was laid off earlier this year, said the experience he’s gained with his current training will increase his employment options.

“I had experience as a construction laborer, but I know a lot more now than I did before,” Ross said. “Most jobs require that you conform to building code requirements and now I have the ability to do so.”

That’s precisely what Badge said is the focus of trades training at NWCC – getting students prepared to work in their industry of choice.

A whole slate of trades training begins in September at various NWCC campuses.