High school students trade the classroom for campus

A student in a welding mask cutting metal. There are bright orange and yellow sparks flying.
Dual-credit at SAIT celebrates 10 years of taking the future for a test drive.

Designed for students in Grades 11 and 12, dual-credit programs are an opportunity to explore post-secondary and career pathways while earning course credits, a workplace certification or a SAIT credential alongside a high school diploma. 

Dual-credit got its start at SAIT in 2013 with the carpentry program. Ten years on, students can choose from a range of more than 20 dual-credit options and growing, from pipetrades and healthcare career essentials to cooking and baking and software development.

“The intent of these programs is to help high school students transition after graduation, whether that’s into the workforce or on to further studies,” says Rozlynn Wick, Manager, Strategic Youth Initiatives. “They get to try out a career and get a taste of what it’s like to be a post-secondary student while earning credits. The experience is all about helping young people figure out what’s next.”

Jump-starting a career

SAIT works with almost 30 different provincial school board partners to deliver dual-credit programming. 

“I love watching the students explore and grow,” says Tom Wong, Learning Leader Unique Pathways, Calgary Board of Education. “Grade 11 and 12 ― this is the time for students to find themselves. If they try something and don’t like it, they’ve just found something they don’t like. If they do, they’ve found a jump start into a career.”

One of the key benefits of dual-credit participation is the post-secondary preparation aspect, says Wong.

“Dual-credit is like training wheels. Past students have told us the whole experience of dual-credit in high school has helped them be more successful in post-secondary.”

27 trades rolled into one

SAIT’s newest dual-credit offering is Recreation Vehicle (RV) Service Technician. The program is a collaboration between the School of Transportation, School of Manufacturing and Automation and SAIT’s Youth Initiatives department. It received Government of Alberta funding in October 2022 and welcomed its first high school students this fall.

A trailer under repair in a SAIT lab.

Students participating in the program learn to install, diagnose, repair and maintain interior and exterior components on motorhomes, campers, tent trailers and more.

What’s particularly unique about a career as an RV tech ― and the training to become one ― is that it touches on parts of 27 certified trades in Alberta. 

“Welders weld. Plumbers do plumbing. They’re very specific trades,” says Stephen Hockridge, Instructor, School of Transportation. “RV techs need to know all the codes and standards for all the different trades. Plus, you have to put everything onto a trailer that also needs to be lightweight and compact.”

Students are taught by SAIT industry experts and learn about shop safety, measuring and math, heating and cutting, and get experience working with a variety of hand and power tools. 

The dual-credit program is equivalent to the first year of apprenticeship training. After successfully completing the program, students are eligible to challenge the first-period Trade Qualification Apprenticeship Exam and get a head start earning their apprenticeship hours as an RV tech.

SAIT’s RV Service Technician apprentice program graduates about 30 certified techs a year, and demand is at least double that, according to Hockridge.

“The creation of SAIT’s dual-credit RV program was driven by industry demand ― it’s the first program of its kind in Alberta,” says Wick. “The dual-credit option is a great example of SAIT providing new pathways into the skilled trades for young people.”

10 years of career exploration success

When dual-credit first started at SAIT 10 years ago, there were 20 students. Last year, there were 425. In those 10 years, about 21% of participating dual-credit high school students have gone on to apply to SAIT.

One of the keys to success is what Wong describes as authentic learning.

“I remember a former student who struggled a bit in his high school coursework ended up being one of the top students in his dual-credit program. He was able to learn math because it applied to him in the context of his program.

Brehma is a Grade 12 student from Calgary. He was drawn to the Dual-Credit RV Service Technician program because of the hands-on opportunities.

A student in lab coat with a welding mask lifted up.

“I’ve always liked cars. I just want to learn more and know more about everything inside and out, he says. “I enjoy the course because it’s more hands-on. It’s not just tests ― there’s lots to try. And you don’t have to be perfect, you just do your best and practice.

Brehma is looking forward to studying engineering after graduation.

“Some of the kids who sign up for dual-credit programs don’t have a lot of confidence in themselves in high school, says Wong. “But when they get to SAIT, it’s a new world to them. They’re motivated to learn. They discover they can do this. That’s meaningful, authentic learning.

Dual credit at SAIT

Learn more about dual-credit programming ― including the RV Service Technician program ― and other unique pathways programs #HereAtSAIT.

View all dual credit programs

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