Certified tradespeople will now be able to move directly into a third-year degree program thanks to a new initiative launched by NAIT.

The Trades to Degrees initiative was announced on Wednesday and is one of the first in North America to allow certified tradespeople the chance to move directly from their trades’ certificate into the third year of a degree program.

“A career in trades is often perceived as a dead-end. If you want to continue in post-secondary you effectively needed to start over. Trades to Degrees acknowledges the value of work experience and post-secondary education that led to certification as a tradesperson. The pathway recognizes the value of what’s been achieved,” said Glenn Feltham, NAIT president and CEO.

“Through this pathway, trades becomes a true post secondary option. Through Trades to Degrees, tradespeople can return to school to build competencies in different areas including project management and supervision.”

Under Trades to Degrees, certified tradespeople can be admitted directly into the third year of the Bachelor of Business Administration program.

The direct pathway will be expanded to other degree programs offered at NAIT.

Trades to Degrees was introduced in the 2012 fall semester through NAIT’s JR Shaw School of Business with an inaugural group of 22 students comprised mostly of NAIT instructors, including Les McKenna, associate chair of the heavy equipment program at NAIT.

“I have an automotive and heavy equipment ticket and I’ve tried to continue on with my education but I was limited, so this gave me a different pathway to allow me to move forward,” Mc Kenna said.

“The possibilities are basically endless with the amount of retracement that is happening in the province in the trades. Our management positions, our shop foremen, our supervisors are retiring. The Bachelor of Business Administration program through Trades to Degree would allow the apprentices and technicians who are moving up to increase their knowledge to be able to take over those positions.”

The initiative is part of NAIT’s long-term vision as well as the province’s goal of providing Albertans with opportunities for lifelong education.

It’s expected the new direct pathway will allow highly-skilled tradespersons to expand their careers and will help reshape Alberta’s trades system.

Every year, more than 12,000 trades apprentices attend NAIT.