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Prairie Rose and MHC announce trades program for high school students

Posted on January 25, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman
Commentator/Courier Photo by Anna Smith Prairie Rose Possibility: Chad Flinn (left) and Boyd Craven pose with welding equipment in the Trades wing of MHC during their announcement on January 15.

By Anna Smith

High School Students will be exploring new hands-on opportunities in the trades thanks to a new partnership between Medicine Hat College and Prairie Rose Public Schools.

Starting Fall 2024, Prairie Rose high school students in the program will be visiting the college once every two weeks.

“Prairie Rose is going to be involved with the school of trades, where we are going to have some more exciting hands-on learning opportunities for our high school students in the area of the trades,” said Boyd Craven, Prairie Rose Deputy Superintendent.

Students will begin in Grade 10 with experience with seven different trades, and narrowing that selection down to two in the following year to pursue which options have captured their interest. The hope is for students to not only be able to identify what they enjoy, but what they don’t, explained Chad Flinn, Dean of the MHC School of Trades and Technology.

For a long time, there has been a stigma in regards to the trades, said Flinn, something that he hopes this program will help to dispel, especially with the growing demand for skilled trades workers.

“Oftentimes trades have been seen as second rate. And one of the best kept secrets, I think in careers, has been that change is actually a very viable, very profitable business. So to get into high schools, and work with the students, and show them the pathway that trades have, is extremely exciting to us here at Medicine Hat College,” said Flinn.

Students will have access to what Flinn calls the “secret sauce” of MHC, the instructors, as they begin their journeys into some of the most high-demand fields in today’s workforce.

“This is another opportunity for a lot of our rural communities to get ahead in trades, in areas that are flourishing right now. And, you know, there’s a high need for those jobs,” said Craven. “I think it’s just gonna be another great opportunity for our students to get ahead of where they need to be, prior to even starting college.”

This demand comes from various parts of their communities, said Flinn, remarking that Prairie Rose and MHC have been hearing from students themselves, parents, and industry a desire to see more opportunities for trades education, which falls in line with Prairie Rose’s desire to create innovative programming that ignites student interest very well.

This new program is an extension of the longstanding partnership between MHC and Prairie Rose, said Flinn, including a trades partnership with Parkside School which has been going on for over a decade.

“We also developed, in the last year, the healthcare aid program. In both circumstances, the partnership we’ve had with the college has been top rate and now we’re excited to really take on something like this with them,” said Craven.

Another bonus of these programs, especially those that take place within the college itself, is that it will hopefully help smooth the transition between high school and post-secondary education, said Flinn, as students will already be attending classes on campus and may be inspired to continue pursuing their field of choice after graduation.

“They’re actually going to get to meet the instructors and get to know them,” said Flinn. “If they’re working, if they’re staying in the region, if they decide to go on with their apprenticeship, it’s just perfect.”

“We’re getting them in and getting their hands on the tools right away,” said Flinn. “It’s fantastic.”

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