This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with top-echelon and renowned professionals. In this blog, I interview Kelly Knister, VP Skills Canada BC, Director CEA, Careers Coordinator who talks about needed partnerships, apprenticeships, skills, transition and educational relevance.
Kelly Knister is the Coordinator for the South Island Partnership. The South Island Partnership is a partnership between five South Vancouver Island School Districts: 61 Victoria, 62 Sooke, 63 Saanich, 64 Gulf Islands and 79 Cowichan Valley and Camosun College. She works on behalf of the partnership to support the goal of smooth transition of secondary school students to post secondary education and/or the workplace. Current transition programs include automotive service, carpentry, cook, electrical, health care assistant, heavy-duty mechanic, horticulture, joinery, plumbing, sheet metal, and welding. Transition courses include biology, chemistry, early child-care education, health, math, and physics. Secondary school students can begin their post secondary training while in high school and earn dual secondary and college credits. The goal of the South Island Partnership is to expand program and course offerings into the technology sector.
Kelly Knister (MA, BEd., Diploma of Technology, TQs Welding) began her career in the oil patches of Alberta as a welders' helper, certified as a journeyman welder by the age of 21 and the only female welder on the worksite for most of her welding career. She worked in all types of environments and learned a great deal about working with people and problem solving. At the age of 29 she moved to BC and attended BCIT to complete a Diploma of Technology and the Bachelor of Education program at UBC. Upon graduation, she became one of seven female technology education teachers in the province of BC at that time. She taught woodwork, metalwork, computer technology and electronics at the grade 9-12 level for 5 years. Kelly began an informal apprenticeship with government in 1999 as a Coordinator with the BC Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Advanced Education. In 2003, she transitioned into the South Island Partnership Coordinator role and has been building programs and relationships ever since. She completed a Master of Arts in Leadership and Training Degree at Royal Road University in 2008.
In addition to her work history, Kelly has the following roles and memberships:
- Vice President, Skills Canada BC and Board Member since 2000
- Director, Vancouver Island Career Education Association 2008-2010
- Member, BC Principals and Vice Principal Association
- Member, BC College of Teachers
- Member, Career Education Society
- Mother, Jordan and Lynden Knister
- Spouse, Dave Betts
To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link
Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic
Kelly profiles her past history, various roles and her objectives for the short and long term.
"....I know when I left high school the program I took helped me to transition into the real world into a career that I loved, and I believe today more than ever, our young people need the same kinds of transition supports, relevant programs that ensure they have skills, and confidence to move beyond high school to make successful transitions into fields of work and study...."
You participated in the Career Education Society Conference recently. Which messages resonated with you and why?
"....The Career Education Society is a great organization which hosts an annual conference to energize career practitioners, most of whom are employed in the K-12 education system....The system always seems to be moving in cycles and it can often be hard to keep up to the latest curve, but I was very pleased to hear that the information technology industry is interested in working with the education system in supporting transitions...."
Educational relevance is a key challenge today. What can be done to better align secondary and post secondary education to support student transitions? What is your call to action for the audience?
"....The call to action is to get the community and industry to get more involved supporting career programs....By supporting the development and maintenance of high school career programs, you support student transitions to further post secondary education and new entry level workers into the field....."
How are you forging industry, community, and education partnerships?
"....Currently we have fairly strong relationships with the construction and marine industry due to the work we have been doing together these past 6 years...In addition, this year the South Island Partnership is engaging in a new business model, working more closely with local industry and business to find ways to develop sustainable partnerships that support the goals of employers who need skilled and trained workforce, and for our organization to sustain our programs and service...."
Why is apprenticeship an exemplary model for education?
"....How many education models can boast a one-to-one ratio?...."
What are the goals for Skills Canada and how can the audience participate?
"....The goals of Skills Canada, which is a non-profit organization, are to promote youth (29 and under) going into and exploring careers in trades and technology...Last year Skills Canada BC hosted 12 regional events and a provincial event to showcase careers in trades and technology and today we need industry and the private sector to help to maintain and carry on our mission.....To get involved, contact Skills Canada BC http://www.skillscanada.bc.ca to find out how you can help...."
You talk about "Beyond the secondary school experience - getting over the hump." What do you mean by this?
"....What we are starting to see and what research is telling us is that students are challenged in making smooth transitions from their high school experience beyond to their post secondary education or into employment....A lot of students are struggling to 'get over the hump', getting beyond high school to gainful employment or post secondary education...."
What are top lessons and tips can your share from the projects you have worked on and from your leadership roles?
"....Having a collaborative environment....Employers and business are a key part of transition solutions....You don't know until you try...."
What do you see as the top challenges facing us today and how do you propose they be solved?
"...The top challenge is that everything is shrinking - declining enrollment and funding cuts......If you are interested in working with the South Island Partnership we can be found on Camosun College website at http://www.camosun.bc.ca/lync....."