A select group of high school students with dreams set on auto body and power engineering careers won’t have to wait until graduation to get more hands-on with their prospective industries.
An update on the new School Within a College initiative, also known as SWAC, was presented to board members of Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools on Tuesday evening.
SWAC, to be piloted in September, is a joint initiative between Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division, Red Deer Public School Division, Chinook’s Edge School Division and Red Deer College.
Four Grade 12 students from each division will attend the pilot program to obtain an Automotive Service Technician (AST) credential as well as their high school diplomas by June 2015.
They will attend all classes — including the regular necessary high school courses — within the college. Mornings will be college based and high school courses will take place in the afternoons, said Dave Khatib, Red Deer Catholic Schools division principal.
“We’re just at the point where we’re starting to sign agreements with all the partners but we don’t think we’ll have an issue with finding four students to apply for a space in this program,” he said.
According to Khatib, staff working on the initiative are also “99 per cent” sure a similar pilot program for power engineering will be launched in September.
However, these students would not be in a college setting, working on their fourth class steam engineer ticket and high school diplomas while remaining in their current schools.
The logistics of the power engineering program are still being fine tuned, said Khatib.
“That will be a dual credit program. They’ll be taking that steam engineer credential right in Notre Dame High School and possibly Saint Dominic High School in Rocky Mountain House,” he said.
This program will consist of five credits of power engineering courses each semester, as well as summer work experience in order to obtain the required onsite hours for the first-year ticket.
A similar health care aide credential program is running at Notre Dame, where 24 Grade 11 students are taking that post-secondary credential while working on their high school diplomas.
The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive, Khatib said.
“We’re hearing from industry they need workers so we’re trying to address that need,” he said. “We’re able to offer students who show an aptitude in these areas the ability to get the accreditation while they’re still in high school. They don’t have to wait. That’s a tremendous advantage for us in Alberta because we are going to see a deficit in terms of qualified and skilled trades people and I believe this will eventually play role in boosting our economy.”