Connecting more students with skills training and mentorship in northern B.C.

December 7, 2015

QUESNEL – More students in B.C.’s north will connect with the skills and experience they need for the jobs of the future through an expanded $4.9 million Shoulder Tappers program announced today by the B.C. Government and the Northern Development Initiative Trust.

Minister Mike Bernier and Northern Development board chair Evan Saugstad made the announcement while touring Quesnel’s Correlieu Secondary School with officials from the Quesnel School District and community leaders.


Photo credit: Paul Alberts

Shoulder Tappers are career coordinators or recruitment specialists who work one-on-one with elementary and secondary school students to point them in the right direction with greater mentorship and positive career input. The program is based on the successful Northern Opportunities partnership in northeast B.C., which started with a focus on skilled trades careers. It has now grown to include student access to technical, academic, and vocational courses such as aircraft engineering, heavy duty mechanics, information technology, early childhood education and others.

The Province is providing $1.3 million and Northern Development is providing $3.6 million over five years to expand Shoulder Tappers from three to 15 school districts throughout northern B.C.

Shoulder Tappers work closely with school districts, the Industry Training Authority, the Career Education Society, industry and other organizations to help students benefit from exposure to trades and technical training. They also help connect students with on-the-job experience, allowing them to graduate with dual credit toward advanced trades training.

The Province launched B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint in April 2014 to re-engineer education and training so British Columbians are first in line for careers of tomorrow. Shoulder Tappers helps government meet this goal.

Shoulder Tappers are now working in the following districts: Peace River North Peace River South, Fort Nelson, Quesnel, Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Bulkley Valley, Prince George, Coast Mountains, Stikine, Nechako Lakes Nisga’a, Cariboo-Chilcotin, Gold Trail and Central Coast. These school districts collectively educate more than 45,000 students.

Over the next three years new K-12 curriculum is being phased in with new standards in mathematics, sciences and applied design, skills and technology. It supports opportunities for students to develop the problem-solving and creative thinking skills they need for success in B.C.’s tech sector.

In partnership with the BC Innovation Council, British Columbia is hosting its first #BCTECH Summit, Jan. 18-19, 2016. The summit will showcase B.C.’s tech industry and includes a career showcase to provide B.C. students and recent graduates with even more opportunities to get involved in the province’s rapidly growing tech sector.

To register or learn more, go to:


Mike Bernier, Minister of Education
“Parents throughout B.C. want their kids to be set up for success. Shoulder Tappers will connect young people in the north with training opportunities they may not have considered – and set them on a path that can change their lives and their communities. I’m pleased we could partner with Northern Development to expand this program that will help keep our region and our province strong and growing.”

Evan Saugstad, Board Chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust
“Building a stronger north means training and retaining our youth workforce. The personalized approach of the Shoulder Tappers program aligns students, schools, parents and industry to generate success for our youth and has been hugely successful in northeast B.C. Our board is pleased to support the expansion of this program across the region.”

Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, MLA Cariboo North
“The Shoulder Tappers program is an outstanding way to support northern B.C. students and make sure they’re prepared for success. Businesses of all sizes in our growing communities need young people with the right skills to sustain our diversified economy. Connecting students with mentors and skills training close to home helps ensure a strong tomorrow.”

Dennis Hawkins-Bogle, Principal, Correlieu Secondary School, Quesnel
“Students at Correlieu Secondary and in the Quesnel School District have benefitted from Shoulder Tappers through increased exposure to the trades, increased exposure to post-secondary training opportunities, as well as increased awareness of job opportunities. This is exciting news for students in northern B.C. as the B.C. Government, in partnership with Northern Development Initiative Trust, have today committed to expand Shoulder Tappers.”

Bob Simpson, Mayor of Quesnel
“The City of Quesnel welcomes this partnership investment in our students and our community. It will assist us to offer Quesnel and area students greater opportunities to advance their trade and technical skills while helping our local industry address its need for skilled workers.”

Quick Facts:

Learn More:

Northern Development Initiative Trust:

B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint:

B.C.’s new curriculum:

BC’s Education Plan:

BC 2024 Labour Market Outlook:


Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Education

Joel McKay
Director, Communications
Northern Development Initiatives Trust