Head start

Jordan Ryan started an Okanagan College course in welding while still attending Kelowna Secondary School.

Students in Kelowna are getting an education while learning real- world skills.

Central Okanagan Public Schools and Industry Training Authority (ITA) offer students the chance to develop a trade skill while earning high school and post-secondary credits at the same time.

Jordan Ryan took the dual credit ITA Youth Trades program at Kelowna Secondary School and started the welding program at Okanagan College before graduating high school.

By deciding in Grade 11 which trade he wanted to go into, he was able to get into the first year of college-level technical training while still in high school.

Ryan earned his Red Seal in welding and became a homeowner at the age of 22. He appreciates the financial security from the trades and is encouraging other students to explore a trades career.

“What I enjoy most about the trades is being able to live a healthy and balanced life, free from financial distress and close to my family and home,” he said.

“I tell all high school students to give the dual-credit ITA Youth Trades program a shot with whatever trade they are interested in. It may seem challenging to start a course in college while in high school, but with whatever may happen, you’ll only come out ahead.”

Central Okanagan Public Schools has 25 dual-credit ITA Youth Trades programs.

Students and parents can visit dualcredit23.com, youth.itabc.ca, or attend an information night on

Nov. 14, 6-7 p.m. at Rutland Secondary School.

Calvin Jackson also took the ITA Youth in Trades program at KSS. His journey began with roofing and siding as an architectural sheet metal worker during the construction of the new Canyon Falls Middle School. He’s currently at Okanagan College finishing his Level 3 technical training for sheet metal fabrication.

“The youth trade sample got me hooked, and it made me want to keep doing it,” said Jackson. “The dual-credit ITA program gave me a head start on my career choice.”

His parents are happy with that choice.

“We’re supportive of Calvin choosing a career in trades because it offers strong employment opportunities and the potential for a good salary and benefits,” said Mike Jackson, Calvin’s father.

“He has always been very mechanically-minded, but he hadn’t been able to find a university program that interested him. The trades program did, so it was a great fit.”