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City Welcomes TRU Practicum Students in Launch of Trades Assistant Program for Students Experiencing Barriers to Employment

james pano
andrew pano
donovan pano

This spring, in partnership with TRU, the City of Kamloops has been honored to host four students for a six-week practicum placement as part of the Education and Skills Training (ESTR) Certificate program. The program pairs classes and lab experiences with real-world work experiences for students experiencing barriers to employment.

While TRU has been offering the ESTR program since 2003, this is the first year they have introduced the Trades Assistant stream and the first year that the City has had the opportunity to get involved. Two students have been working outdoors with our Parks team and two students have been stationed in our Mechanics shop with our Fleet and Mechanical Shop team.

The students are learning tangible skills that range from planting seeds to using a blow torch or plasma cutter. “I’ve learned so many things, like how air brake tubes work, how some of the hydraulic systems work in a dump truck, and how to change oil filters in them as well as how to check tires for wear and tear,” described Donovan Thifault, whose been working in the mechanics shop.

“The practicum placements are enriching opportunities for our students to gain some real job experience and learn what they enjoy or don’t enjoy about their field of choice,” explained Janessa Boomhour, TRU’s ESTR Trades faculty member. “We are grateful for the vast array of experiences that the City is modelling for our students this year. It will truly help them get the most out of this program.”

When asked what they liked best about the practicum so far, the students shared:

  • "Seeing a lot of people and getting nice compliments." - Andrew Freund
  • "Working with my hands." - James Spinks
  • "I get to work on cars and help with heavy duty equipment every day, and it's something I can definitely see myself doing in the future.” - Donovan Thifault

City staff have found engaging in the practicum to be equally as enriching. They have enjoyed getting to know the students and sharing expertise and skills with them while gaining valuable insight into how to build a more accessible and inclusive work force.

In fall 2020, the City and TRU renewed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which was first signed on August 23, 2018, to build on existing relationships and work together toward goals and activities where collaboration may benefit the City, TRU, and the broader Kamloops community. Partnering to support this program aligns with the objectives of our MOU and is something we hope to continue for years to come.

This year’s practicum wraps up on May 7. If you see any of our students out on the job during their last week of work, please be sure to give them a wave!