Empowering Youth in Northern B.C.: The Arx and Sparx Program’s Path to Skills and Success

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Photo © Courtesy of CWB Foundation

Igniting a Brighter Future With Welding & Skilled Trades Education, Awareness & Pre-Employment | CWB Foundation

The welding and materials joining industry offers young people a promising and engaging career path, and that’s no different for youth in northern British Columbia living in communities like Terrace or Kitimat. In 2018, the CWB Foundation, in partnership with LNG Canada, saw an opportunity to support youth and local industry through a joint program called Arx and Sparx. This program offers youth an exciting and hands-on experience with beginner welding training, blending skill development, and cultural activities that foster pride in themselves and their communities. The program has taken over 250 participants on a transformative journey and paved the way for their future careers.

Arx and Sparx is rooted in a collaborative spirit, with both organizations and delivery partners working closely with community members to tailor a curriculum that respects and integrates that community’s cultures and values.

This approach enriches the learning experience and fosters a sense of pride and belonging among participants. By involving Elders and incorporating traditional knowledge, the program has created a bridge between cultural traditions and modern skills, facilitating a unique educational pathway that resonates deeply with Indigenous youth.

Incorporating cultural content into the program has many benefits. It empowers participants with tangible welding skills, instills confidence, sparks curiosity, and opens a realm of career possibilities. Participant feedback has highlighted the program’s role in breaking down barriers to entry into the skilled trades and preparing a diverse workforce.

cwb welding foundation
Photo © Courtesy of CWB Foundation

The success of Arx and Sparx is evident in the numbers and the narratives. With approximately 50 per cent of the 250 youth participants self-identifying as Indigenous, the program has made significant strides in reaching this group. Participants gained new skills and a sense of achievement, which opened the door to countless possibilities. The statistics underscore the impact. At the end of the program, 54 per cent of participants were already considering careers in welding and joining, and 91 per cent felt more inclined to take technical courses in high school, illustrating the program’s effectiveness in sparking interest in the skilled trades.

The lasting impact of Arx and Sparx on Indigenous People and the welding and materials joining industry is profound. Beyond equipping youth with skills, the program has nurtured the next generation of tradespeople, enriched with a diverse workforce that includes Indigenous individuals’ talents and perspectives. This initiative is not just about fostering individual growth; it’s about strengthening communities, preserving cultural heritage, and contributing to the broader economic prosperity of the region.

Arx and Sparx is a testament to the transformative power collaboration has on Indigenous communities and the skilled trades industry. Creating career awareness and pre-employment programs that weave cultural considerations into the fabric of vocational training provides young people with a chance to explore a fulfilling career in the skilled trades. As the CWB Foundation continues to forge ahead, the inspiration gained from Arx and Sparx’s success will help drive future programming through new partnerships and discovering a wide range of career possibilities.

Please visit the CWB Foundation’s Arx and Sparx program page, found at cwbweldingfoundation.org, for more information.

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Building awareness of Canada’s need for skilled professionals, with educational programs and supports for welding and allied processes trades and technology careers.

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