With the snip of a shear Julia Scheuer makes the hair stylist apprenticeship program look easy.
The 18-year-old is straight out of Claremont high school this year but has already built up her client bank, or regulars, where she cuts and styles hair at the Copa Hair Studio and Spa in Feltham Village. She started there in 2015, as a Grade 10 student, and has now earned all 3,600 hours of work-based training towards the 3,600 hours she needs to earn a red seal trade certificate as a hair stylist.
“It’s what I wanted to do since I was a kid,” Scheuer said. “I was one of 10 grandchildren but I was the one who followed my grandmother around her hair salon whenever I visited.”
Scheuer is one of 16 students enrolled in Saanich School District 63’s Youth Work in Trades program, said Stu Rhodes, the district’s apprenticeship co-ordinator. Funding comes from the provincial Industry Training Authority which invested $280,000 on the Island for 2017-18, $20,000 of that going to Greater Victoria SD61 and another $30,000 to SD63.
The goal is to steer more high school students into the trades, an area of great demand in B.C.’s economy.
“…There couldn’t be a better time to get into trades than now,” said Doug Podetz, an ITA apprenticeship advisor.
As a fresh faced 16-year-old hair stylist, the experience quickly emboldened Scheuer’s social confidence.
“People recognized that I was young so I had to step up my confidence, it’s a big part of being a hair stylist, that relationship with the client,” Scheuer said.
While SD63 has its own Studio 63 teaching salon in the Keating area, there are a variety of trades available.
In West Saanich, 17-year-old Miles Gillespie buzzes through 2x4s with a skill saw on a Monday morning while others are in class. The apprentice carpenter is framing up a new wall for a walk-in closet in his boss’s house.
“It just so happens my boss [Geoff Matthias of Phoenix Carpentry] is doing a reno in his own home but I’ve been working with him for two years,” Gillespie said.
A former Stelly’s student, Gillespie transferred to Claremont this year and has a flexible school schedule to keep him in the workplace.
Once students complete their first 120 hours Rhodes suggests the employer pay them, if they aren’t being paid already.
”Work experience placements allow students to sample the nature of the work and the culture of the workplace,” Rhodes said.
In Gillespie’s case, he’s also at about 1,500 hours towards his work-based training hours, though a carpentry certificate demands more than 6,000.
While Scheuer is a lot closer to getting her red seal, she’s also looking past hair styling to what’s next and is studying a separate program at Camosun College.
“Getting a trade ticket isn’t a sentence to a life in that career,” Rhodes said. “Scheuer has a paying job, she’s making money while she studies.”