LCI partners with Southland and college for a unique program for students

By Garrett Simmons

Lethbridge School District No. 51

Communications Officer

High school students at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute have a unique learning opportunity thanks to Southland International Trucks Ltd., Lethbridge College and the District's Off-Campus Education program.

Southland, a local service, sales, rental and leasing heavy-equipment dealer, has partnered with LCI for a job-shadow program, which will see 10 high school students work in the company’s parts, service, used truck detailing, antique restoration and business management departments.

From Jan. 23-27, students will spend each day at Southland, with the exception of one morning, which will be spent at Lethbridge College, to take part in a program which was a joint venture between LCI and Off-Campus Education.

“We’re going to give them a well-rounded education about how our business has to run,” said Rob Mitchell, Southland’s service manager, who added students will rotate through every department, and learn about every aspect of the business.

Mitchell added while high schools have made strides in terms of introducing students to the trades, there is one major piece missing.

“One thing I see is there is a lack of knowledge of what is happening in the background at these businesses. There is a whole other aspect of the business in terms of accounting, parts, sales and rentals.”

At the end of the week, students will have the opportunity to speak with Southland’s owner, George Kirkham, to give students an opportunity to relay what they have learned about the business.

“We expect quite a bit of input from them,” said Mitchell.

He added the goal is to provide a quality learning experience for the high-school students, as the first year of the program will provide a template for future years. Mitchell was also hopeful the idea of a business partnership with a local high school would catch on.

“We’re trying to encourage other companies to follow suit, and get other companies to build on this format,” said Mitchell, who along with Kirkham, both attended LCI as students.

LCI students will earn two credits with their participation in the program.

“As to the curriculum for the course, we identified two specific Career Transitioning courses that the students will gain credit for,” said Cory Hoffner, Construction Technology and Automotive Instructor at LCI. “These courses focus on preparing students to enter the work force. Identifying employability skills and personal competencies that employers require are the major objectives we would like students to complete.”

He added the one-week program will be very intensive.

“By working hands on in each department, we feel students will gain and appreciate what is required in each specific field of work,” said Hoffner. “Students will be reflecting on their time in each department at the end of each day, identifying what employability and personal competencies they feel are required to be successful in the specific department.”

It was an initiative the college was also very excited to join.

“It’s a very interesting partnership,” said Oliver Twizell, Development Officer at Lethbridge College. “I believe it’s the first time anything like this has been done. It is very unique.”

Tradespeople at the college will provide training for the LCI students, who will have the opportunity to tour the college’s trades facility, which Southland contributed $100,000 towards.

“Students will also gain valuable information through the college as to what requirements are needed for certain trades and the length of apprenticeship training that is required for select trades,” said Hoffner. “A tour of the new trades building will definitely entice students as to options that are available after school or through the Registered Apprenticeship Program while they are still in high school.”

In the end, Mitchell added the partnership is a great example of three entities working together for the benefit of students.

“What I like about it is the collaboration with the college and District 51 and industry, with all three of us being involved.”

Hoffner is hopeful those partnerships can continue well into the future.

“I see the partnership between Southland International and Lethbridge College evolving over time to offer more of these types of courses to allow students an authentic hands-on learning experience,” he said. “Partnerships like these drastically improve school programs, as they create a foundation where students are exposed to industry standards.”

Andrew Krul, the District's Off-Campus Education facilitator, added there is certainly an opportunity to offer similar types of programming in the future, as he mentioned the LCI-Southland partnership could set the table for the future.

"This is a wonderful way of finding out how we can make if more efficient in the future and how we can increase student learning going forward."

As for this particular partnership, Hoffner added it will be great experience for his students.

“Ultimately, we are striving to build awareness of the trades through collaboration with industry and the college. We strongly believe this opportunity will provide students with an in-depth experience of how a company operates, and how the many departments work together in providing a service to its customers.”

Date posted: Jan. 18, 2017