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Partnership Brings Trades Training to Smithers

A unique partnership between Northwest Community College and School District 54 is making it possible for NWCC's Outdoor Power Equipment Technician (OPET) program to be offered in Smithers. The partnership centres on Industry Training Authority's ACE IT (Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training) program. A program which enables high school students to earn both graduation credits and credit for the first level of technical training associated with an Industry Training Program or apprenticeship. The offering has been opened up to enable community members to also sign up and enrol in the program. "The ACE IT programs that are now available to students have provided a significant alternative to the traditional academic focus of the high school," states Jon Goalder, Career Education Coordinator for Smithers Secondary School. "We are seeing a number of students that are prepared to take the next step towards a trades related career staying in the school system to reap the benefits of programs like OPET. In addition, offering OPET locally allows students to remain in the community and network with a number of employers that are looking for qualified workers within the local community." "We would not have been able to bring OPET to Smithers without this partnership with the School District, explains NWCC Dean of Trades and Technology, Dave O'Leary. "The school provides us with the shop area required for the program and open enrolment permits members of the community to take advantage of this training opportunity." Local resident Dave Clements will be instructing the program. Clements has worked extensively in the Smithers area and has over 30 years of experience in the trade. The Outdoor Power Equipment Technician program is designed to give students the entry-level technical skills necessary to begin work as an apprentice diagnostic and repair technician within the outdoor power equipment trade. Students will use practical shop facilities to gain competence in a range of service operations for snowmobiles, outboard motors, lawnmowers, chainsaws, etc., with an emphasis on customer relations. The 19 week program begins February 5 at the Smithers Secondary School with classes running from Monday to Friday, 4 pm until 9 pm - helping accommodate those with working schedules. Applications and inquiries can be directed to Northwest Community College, Smithers campus.

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