KPU students teach benefits of trades careers to the next generation

Thu, Mar 6, 2014

Surrey, B.C. – Future electricians, plumbers, welders, carpenters, and appliance servicing and automotive technicians who are still in elementary school had their first look at a rewarding career in the trades on March 6.

The aspiring tradespeople – some 600 Grade 6 and 7 students from the Surrey school district – went on a unique field trip to Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s trades and technology campus (KPU Tech) in Cloverdale.

The trip’s objective was to expose young students and their families to the countless benefits and opportunities offered by a career in the trades. KPU students hosted the hundreds of young learners, assisting with tours of the university's facilities, as well as hands-on trades demonstrations. 

“This is a chance for students to explore in a very real way what a trades career looks like,” says Susan Chow, principal of career education for Surrey Schools. “Few students have the benefit of insight like this at their age.”

The field trip is the result of a partnership between the district and KPU, with support from the Industry Training Authority (ITA).

KPU Tech provides leading-edge trades and technology programming aimed at meeting the rising demand for skilled trades workers and apprenticeships. The 11- and 12-year-old students were given a tour of the campus and took part in hands-on activities. They were also able to faculty and current KPU trades students questions.

“We’re extremely proud of this partnership we have with Surrey Schools,” says Henry Reiser, KPU’s dean in the faculty of trades and technology. “Together we are able to show young learners that there are countless career paths into trades and technology, many of which can lead to a KPU degree.”

KPU and the district also invited parents of the 600 participating students to come along on the field trip.

“Parents play an important role in post-secondary education, from providing insight and guidance to financial aid,” says Reiser. “We want them to feel confident about their children’s career choice, and there is no better way than to show them the possibilities first-hand.”

Chow adds that having parents attend also helps them understand the vast array of opportunities available, and connects them back to the dual credit apprenticeship programs already offered by the district in partnership with KPU and other post-secondary institutions. The Accelerated Credit Enrolment to Industry Training (ACE IT) model gives high school students credit toward technical training programs before graduation.

ITA director of training delivery Erin Johnston applauds Surrey Schools and KPU for this latest collaboration.

“Hands-on, fun and interactive events like this provide young students a chance to build and create something and get a sense of the pride and accomplishment from doing so,” says Johnston.

The field trip is funded by the ITA’s Youth Exploring Skills to Industry Training (YES 2 IT) program. A joint initiative between ITA and the Ministry of Education, YES 2 IT funds projects that are designed to increase awareness of careers in the trades. It targets younger students as well as their parents, employers, educators and communities. In order to attain ITA funding, projects need to include pre- and post-classroom learning activities and parental involvement.

The field trip was also made possible with support from Honeywell, the Automotive Training Standards Organization, Clear Marketing, BC Fasteners, Noble Plumbing and Southridge Building Supplies.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has been serving the Metro Vancouver region for 30 years, and has opened doors to success for more than 250,000 people. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs, including business, liberal arts, science, design, health, trades and technology, apprenticeships, horticulture, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 145 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates and citations. Learn more at


Media contacts:
Hayley Woodin
Media Specialist, KPU
t: 604.599.2883

Doug Strachan
Manager, Communication Services
Surrey Schools
t: 604.595.6189

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