PCSS Carpentry students not deterred

Carpentry Foundation students complete certification despite pandemic


When most educational programs and schools were required to shift to alternative and online delivery methods this spring, the delivery of trades training programs looked grim. Lucky for the 10 students enrolled in the Prince Charles Carpentry Foundations Program, their teacher and the school took a few extra steps necessary to avoid postponement of their certification this spring.

The Carpentry Foundations program at PCSS, now a direct partnership with ITA (Industry Training Authority), and the earlier versions of trades training programs with COTR, have offered many PCSS students the opportunity to complete foundation-level carpentry training while still in high school for the past 15 years.

The 20 week program, always offered in the second half of the academic school year, includes a combination of technical and practical training which amounts to approximately 720 hours and completion of Level 1 Carpentry certification. To address the unique circumstances that 2020 held, the trades training system made adaptations to the program completion and assessment requirements as well as complying with Worksafe BC construction COVID protocol.

Prior to spring break, the students had completed approximately 55% of the course work, but mostly theory. “The practicum component always starts after spring break,” explained Work Experience and shop teacher Todd Hawton, “however this year it had to be delayed to work out the details.”

Carpentry Foundations teacher Shayne Ducharme sought out the required conditions and protocols necessary for his cohort to continue amidst school closures, to ensure they could complete the practical training component and 70% course completion requirement. This meant tracking down individual sets of tools for each student and devising a scheduling plan that prescribed shift work to adhere to social distancing measures.

By May 10th, the Carpentry Foundations students were onsite to begin construction of a two-story garage in a residential area of Creston.

The hands-on learning component of the program, and opportunity for students to frame an actual building during their training, provides them with the comprehensive set of skills and knowledge they need to seek entry-level employment in the construction industry.

With no tuition fee, and completion of six different occupational certificates as part of the training, these students can also market themselves to future employers should they be interested in seeking apprenticeships. 

Due to COVID-19, ITA waived the final certification exam this year and this group of students will be awarded their Level 1, thanks to the efforts of their SD8 teachers to remove any extra obstacles. And someone in Creston is going to get a nice garage too!


For more information;

Prince Charles Secondary School

(250) 428-2274

About The Board of Education of School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake):

The Board of Education of School District No. 8 provides educational services to numerous diverse communities in the East & West Kootenays, including Crawford Bay, Creston, Kaslo, Meadow Creek, Nelson, Salmo, Slocan, South Slocan, Winlaw, Wynndel and Yahk. Its dedicated team focuses on providing the best possible educational opportunities for over 5,400 students and their families. Its mission is to focus on excellence for all learners in a nurturing environment.