This year, students at Cole Harbour District High School can enroll in a new skilled trade course geared at getting teens looking at jobs in the shipbuilding industry.

The former Darrell Dexter NDP government committed $10 million to Cole Harbour District High School two years ago to build a new, state-of-the-art skilled trades wing. The program was announced as a way to create a skilled workforce to meet Nova Scotia's $25-billion worth of shipbuilding demands.

The 48 students in this year's class will learn welding, plumbing, electrical and auto repair skills, but they'll start with the basics.

"You have a measuring tape, you have a speed square you have a hand saw," said instructor Marco Barreiro.

He said the demand for skilled workers is becoming more and more obvious as the province ages.

"You have kids who are finished high school that go to university and, you know, later on realize they should have gone into the trades because there's a lot of money to be made in the trades," he said.

"We’re talking 66 certified trades in Nova Scotia that are going to have nobody to fill these positions because the workplace is aging and retiring."

The money to build the wing was committed in order to get young Nova Scotians ready to build ships when the big work begins in the next year or so.

Principal Ken Fells said regardless of the shipbuilding program, students with a background in the trades will do well.

"We still need the trades and the trades are a very significant part of Nova Scotia. It always has been, that's our history," he said.

"That they can be businessmen. That they can do all kinds of different skills and do that through skills trades besides the academic side."

The first group of students will begin the program on Thursday.