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Victoria, CanadaVictoria, Canada
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

"Trade Awareness, Skills & Knowledge" is an innovative program that moves students toward graduation, provides technical training, & a transition to employment.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The TASK program is helping a group comprised of vulnerable Aboriginal learners from four reserves located on the Saanich Peninsula. These candidates range in age from 15 to 51, live in extreme poverty, and require a multifaceted approach to change their life circumstance. In almost every instance these disengaged vulnerable learners had left school with virtually no core (English ,math, socials, science) subjects completed beyond the grade 9 level, and were unemployed at the commencement of the TASK program. They lacked the knowledge, skills, and attitude to be successfully employed. They needed high school graduation, specific training and certification, transportation support, transition to employment, and appropriate personal work wear, tools & equipment.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The TASK (Trade Awareness, Skills & Knowledge) Program is a catalyst for change because it addresses the identified needs of the community of Aboriginal learners. Students earn credit for 4 dual-credit, college level courses that count toward high school graduation. Students gain 5 certificates including: fork lift operator, WHMIS, first aid, flag person/traffic control, & fall arrest. They participate in a project based learning activity where they work in teams of 3 to build a small structure. While completing this task they get trade specific training in the following areas: carpentry, plumbing, electrical, joinery, drywall, sheet metal, and painting. Students received work readiness training, were assisted in finding employment for a practicum with a community based employer, were introduced to their employers and were provided with bus passes to enable them to get to their work sites. Students will receive ongoing support to create and execute a personal educational plan.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

This pilot project started in February, 2012. It provided 4 months of technical training in seven specific trade areas by a college level instructor followed by a one month, unpaid, practicum placement with an employer in the construction sector. The training was delivered "on reserve" in the Pauquachin Nation Community Hall which provided a safe & familiar environment enabling students to more positively engage in their learning. A First Nation Elder trades person was engaged to support student learning needs and provide mentorship. One of the greatest challenges to success in the program was attendance. Students were coached in examining past personal management systems and worked toward creating change in their lives. Many of these vulnerable learners have undiscovered potential and benefitted greatly from the tangible learning activities provided by this program where they "learned by doing." The class project required them to learn and execute all skills required to complete the task. It engaged them in a way that piqued their enthusiasm and curiosity to keep learning about the next step. Since they worked in teams of 3, it also taught them about commitment to task and responsibility to coworkers. They framed walls, floors, and roof; installed the electrical wiring and plumbing; installed ceiling fan & duct work; drywalled & painted the structure; and constructed & installed a vanity and sink. The TASK project is unique in the many and varied partnerships we created with numerous agencies, employers, and suppliers from the community to sustain the vision.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

It's difficult to distinguish competitors from peers because we adopted a collaborative approach that recruited resources from would be competitors to assist in creation of TASK. The TASK initiative started at Individual Learning Centre & gained support from Saanich District. Camosun College was our principal partner providing instructor & curriculum. Pauquachin First Nation provided facilities to house TASK. Victoria Native Friendship Centre provided students' personal equipment while Coast Salish Employment Training Society/Blade Runners provided funding for certificates, program assistant & transportation. Though Blade Runners provides similar trade training it does not provide transferable credits for graduation. Slegg Lumber provided materials. Community employers provided placements.

Founding Story

As Career Coordinators with Saanich School District, and architects of the program, we (Wendy Walker & Stu Rhodes) recognized that a group of students needs were not being met within our Saanich communities. The regular school learning environment was not working for these students. When we first started recruiting and interviewing students for the TASK program we were empowered by what we witnessed to create a "wrap around" program that could accommodate these candidates. The majority of the students referred to us were First Nation so we approached Pauquachin Nation to see if they would host the program on their reserve. Once they agreed to host, we conducted interviews on site & learned that these at risk candidates were in desperate need of education, trade training, certification, & employment. We developed a vision for the program that we hoped would allow our students to learn their way out of poverty by acquiring the knowledge, skills and attitudes to be successfully employed.
About You
Individual Learning Centre, Saanich School District, #63
About You
First Name

Stu & Wendy

Last Name

Rhodes & Walker

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Individual Learning Centre, Saanich School District, #63

Organization Country

, BC, Victoria

Country where this solution is creating social impact

, BC, Victoria

Region in BC where your solution creates social impact

Vancouver Island.

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for less than a year

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Cost.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

At the outset our goal was for students to develop a pattern of regular attendance, re-engage in school & learning with a new focus on graduation, & complete the program enabling them to earn 24 credits toward graduation. As the program evolves future goals include attaining high school graduation, engaging in meaningful employment in a sector of the construction industry, attend a trade training institution to participate in a "foundation" or level one trade training program in their trade. Students will develop a positive attitude toward the work place with an understanding of commitment & responsibility to their employer and coworkers as a contributing member of a production team. This in turn will have a ripple effect on other community members providing mentorship and role modelling.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Phase one of the pilot has been completed & all TASK students have moved closer to graduation; 2 attained graduation. As we move forward we are continuing to support students & track their employment & educational programs.
Student stats to date:
21 initially enrolled in TASK
1 removed due to nonattendance
1 withdrew early to participate in full time employment
19 successfully completed TASK

9 transitioned to full time summer employment
8 transitioned to part time summer employment
3 attempted employment

8 plan to transition to trades training this year
4 plan to complete graduation requirements then transition to trades training
1 has been offered an apprenticeship

TASK generated an amazing wave of enthusiasm toward learning that did not previously exist in the Pauquachin community. This was demonstrated to us early by the over whelming response at information meetings & later by the immense pride exhibited by family at the recognition ceremony.

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

In 5 years the graduation rate within the 4 Saanich reserves will have increased as a result of TASK. The role modelling of older students re-engaging in learning through this trade program will have a positive impact on younger community members. Few individuals from within the 4 reserves have any trade certification. As a result of this program some students will eventually become journeyman. They in turn will continue to mentor others from their communities. This will have a significant impact on employment within the community and increase the overall standard of living. When the level of trades training is improved this knowledge will be reflected in the ability to engage in small building improvement projects that will have a direct impact in their immediate community.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Students lacked the skills and means to connect with employers. We created a phone card with employer contact info and a script for students to use with employers and we conducted role plays. Some students did not have access to a phone. We incorporated the use of a buddy system.
Students did not have resources for transportation. We secured short term funding from partnerships for bus passes.
Many students did not have the academic prerequisites for trade training programs. We continue to create academic plans for students to complete these courses.
Personal Management:
Students ability to prioritize school and work commitments ahead of recreational pastimes was lacking. More coaching and role playing required in this area.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Interview 19 students and check their individual progress to date.

Task 2

Assist students with the planning for the continuation of their program toward graduation, trade training, and employment.

Task 3

Develop new strategies to better support students in their transition to employment for the next cohort of TASK participants.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Implement new strategies for next TASK cohort.

Task 2

Promote program and intake dates for next cohort.

Task 3

Recruit and interview new candidates for next TASK cohort.

Tell us about your partnerships

Camosun College provides an instructor, curriculum & some equipment. Community based employers are philosophically aligned with the vision of the TASK program & play an integral role in supporting Aboriginal students in Saanich community. With out their support this program would not be possible. They provide the critical element which allows students to transition into the work force. Pauquachin Nation played a key role by providing the facility & supporting communication to community members. Other partnerships such as VNFC & CSETS/BR as mentioned above, provide essential financial support.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?

No, we are not planning on extending to other locations. The program has just begun to create change in the larger Saanich First Nation community where we plan to initiate subsequent cohorts. However we have provided insight to other school districts with similar needs and will be sharing our project with the entire province of B.C. at the next Career Educators Society conference this November and we will also be presenting at the BC School Superintendents Association conference in mid November. We are willing to share our knowledge and experience with other jurisdictions.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

Hosting the technical training component of TASK on reserve at Pauquachin Nation was an important factor in the comfort level for student participants. Endorsement of the TASK program by the Chief and Business Manager of Pauquachin Nation allowed the program to move forward. This support has already been offered for future offerings of the TASK program. Recruitment of a First Nation trades person as a program assistant was key in providing cultural mentorship and support to students to learn and understand while constructing their projects. The most critical component is having two educators (aside from the Camosun College instructor) who could provide stability and continuity of support to students and also develop, articulate, implement, and maintain the vision of the TASK program.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

We would appreciate and benefit from an invitation to participate in cultural and educational opportunities with the four Saanich First Nations to better understand their vision of employment and career development.