Northern Opportunities program exceeding its goals to advance trades and education in northeast B.C.

April 4, 2014

The Northern Opportunities program was originally geared to grow trades students careers in the region, however, they have recently widened their scope to incorporate academic and vocational courses

The Northern Opportunities program has proven to be a catalyst for advancing trades and education in northern B.C., according to a recently released partnership report. The report showed that between 2009 and 2012, Northern Opportunities’ non-trades related courses resulted in a 92% graduation rate from articulated programs, a 91% rate of completion for aboriginal students and a staggering 94% rate of completion for dual credit graduates.

The report also showed that, during the same period, graduation rates for trades related articulated programs was 80%, aboriginal students in trades related courses had an 80% completion rate and the completion rate for trades related dual credit programs topped 82%. Since 2006, Northern Development Initiative Trust has recognized the importance and potential of the Northern Opportunities program and has provided $1,072,770 in funding to the North East BC Learning Council to support program development in trades-related courses.

Northern Opportunities’ goal, envisioned more than a decade ago, was to develop strong, vibrant communities in northeastern B.C. Through substantial collaboration on behalf of industry, educational institutions, and northern communities, the Northern Opportunities program has sustainably and seamlessly transitioned high school and post-secondary students, wishing to pursue an industry-oriented career into a relevant employment in northern B.C.

A key ingredient to Northern Opportunities’ overwhelming success can be attributed in part to their ability to cultivate sustainable partnerships. Northern Opportunities maintains strong partnerships with Northern Lights College, School Districts #59, #60 and #81, Chalo School, BCIT, North East Native Advancing Society, T.R.A.D.E.S Northeast, Northern Development Initiative Trust, Canadian Natural Resources, Canfor, EnCana, Spectra Energy, BC Hydro and Shell Canada. Even more impressive, the Northern Opportunities recent outcomes indicate that they are meeting and exceeding most of their projected graduate targets two years earlier than expected.

Northern Opportunities was originally geared to grow trades students careers in the region, however, they have recently widened their scope to incorporate academic and vocational courses. With northern B.C.’s economy on the precipice of a boom, and planned industrial projects on the rise, it is obvious that the future is still bright for this inspiring and dynamic program.


“The Northern Opportunities programs continues to show that strategic investment in advancing trades training education in northern B.C. helps to build a stronger north,” said Janine North, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust.

“Since the inception of the Northern Opportunities Partnership just over ten years ago, the dual credit options for students in northeastern BC has grown exponentially. Trades course offerings have increased from one or two to more than 25 and since 2009 also included 18 non-trades (academic & vocational) courses. The graduation rates of dual credit students in our region speak for themselves, consistently exceeding the traditional rates by 15 – 18 per cent since 2006,” said Cheryl Anthony, Program Director, Northern Opportunities

“This is a program that has made a difference in the lives of students and the growth of our business community. Our students have the ability to graduate not only well established in a trade, but in a trade that they know has been acknowledged by industry that it is needed. Our youth have gone on to full time work and apprenticed others or have started their own businesses. It just doesn’t get any better than a northern opportunity like this!” said City of Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman

Quick Facts :

• The Northern Opportunities program was created to awareness and participation in trades and technical training in northeast B.C.
• Northern Development has provided $1,072,770 in grant funding to support the program
• Approximately 73% of the Trust’s funding approvals go into communities with less than 5,000 people
• Since inception, the Trust has approved $121 million in funding to 1,444 projects throughout central and northern B.C.
• Northern Development provides grant and loan funding to municipalities, regional districts, First Nations and non profit organizations
• The Trust manages 13 distinct funding programs and a host of capacity building services that provide crucial support to 49 local governments and 88 First Nations communities in an area that encompasses 75% of B.C.

Contact :

Joel McKay
Director, Communications
Northern Development Initiative Trust