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Student school/work transitions in British Columbia : a case study of the Career Technical Centre in Abbotsford, 2004 Cormier, Gregory John

Abstract

Academic preparation and career programs provided through British Columbia schools support the transition from high school to post-secondary education, training and work. While a large portion of students pursue a university education, many more enrol in various other post-secondary institutions, training programs or engage in various forms of school to work programs. Career preparation programs provide students with alternative pathways to life after school and thousands take advantage of these opportunities while a much smaller number engage in specialised technical career avenues such as Secondary School Apprenticeships or attend Career Technical Centre (CTC) programs. Researchers have overlooked CTC programs and we know little about the nature of the experiences they provide. To address this research area, observations and interviews were conducted with students, teachers, college instructors, staff and administration in the Career Technical Centre in Abbotsford, BC during the 2004/2005 school year. Formal interviews were conducted with two teachers and two college instructors. The objective of the study was to document the experiences of the participants and the nature of education the programs provide. Theoretical issues drawn from discourses on the "new vocationalism" along with educational and career choice were used for interpretation of the findings. A number of characteristics were identified. Students complete the requirements for a high school diploma in addition to receiving University College of the Fraser Valley credentials and relevant work experience in their chosen career fields. During the 2004/2005 school year, there were 364 students enrolled in Computer Information Systems, Drafting Technician, Electrical, Electronics, Health and Human Services, Automotive Service Technician, Carpentry, Welder/Fitter, Applied Business Technology and the newly introduced Grade 10 programs. Specialised programs offer a unique opportunity for students to gain dual credit and genuinely explore technical careers while still in high school. An in-depth study of the form and function of the CTC has presented an important illustration of one educational choice students and parents are offered in British Columbia. Four main themes emerged from the research data collected from the teacher and instructor interviews, informal interviews and questionnaires. First, all of the participants considered the CTC to be a very effective opportunity for career exploration. Second, many recognised the scope of the programs to be focused upon job training and preparation for work while the minimum graduation requirements were met. Third, the CTC provided facilitated access to post-secondary education institutions. Finally, the high school and college partnership structure functioned relatively well as academic education and vocational education were merged into the collaborative programs. A reasonable balance appears to have been achieved within this CTC.

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