Zohar Hatfield’s team won Best in Presentation and Best Overall at the recent Top Chef competition at Selkirk College. Photo submitted

Trades training sets students up on career paths early

Local cooking students participated in the Youth Train in Trades program


Zohara Hatfield wants to travel and cook. She’s only 17, has already completed her high school diploma, achieved top marks in the professional cook first year training program at Selkirk College and has an internship lined up with Mission Hill Wineries for the summer.

This ambitious Mount Sentinel graduate was able to fast track through some of her high school courses and enrolled in the Youth Train in Trades program (YTT) to get a head-start on her career in the culinary arts. After attending a Made for Trades day at Selkirk College in Grade 10, the thought of travelling and studying different cuisines around the world sounded really appealing.

Hatfield is one of seven professional cook students who participated in this year’s Youth Train in Trades program (formerly known as ACE-IT), designed to offer dual credit trades training to high school students interested in trades foundation programs.

“I’m really grateful for the financial support,” says Hatfield. “Half of my cook training classmates were part of the YTT program. It’s such a great opportunity.”

The Kootenay Lake school district pays for the program tuition, and successful applicants can choose from the following list of trades foundations programs offered locally: carpentry, electrical, fine woodworking, heavy mechanical, metal fabricator, millwright/machinist, welder, hairstyling, pipe trades, automotive service technician and professional cook training.

Applications are suggested eight-to-12 months in advance of program start dates for high school students that might be interested in the Youth Train in Trades program.

Funding support and earning dual-credits are not the only benefits attained from enrolling in the YYT program. Students like Hatfield work and learn alongside post-secondary and international graduate level students, such as the post graduate diploma in culinary management students in the cook training program.

Students from both cook programs were teamed up for the recent Top Chef competition at Selkirk College. Teams competed in real-life, high-pressure challenges. Hatfield’s group, Team Spain, took home both Best in Presentation and Best Overall accolades.

“With her internship, Zohara is also an ideal candidate to now enter the Youth Work in Trades (YWT) program and earn a $1,000 bursary after she logs 900 hours with a redseal tradesperson,” explains SD8 trades training co-ordinator Brent Firkser.


Zohara Hatfield got a head-start on her culinary arts career through the Youth Train in Trades program. Photo submitted

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