An investment of more than half a million dollars for the Penticton campus of Okanagan College has an end goal of training and retaining skilled workers in the valley.
New industry-standard trades training equipment will be purchased in Penticton with the $565,000 in funding that was announced by the province on Thursday.
“Training Okanagan College students with job-ready skills means that employers in Penticton will be able to quickly and confidently fill the growing need for skilled tradespeople,” said Penticton MLA Dan Ashton, who attended the announcement at the Penticton campus. “This trades training equipment is vital for student success, both for classroom learning and as they embark on careers in the community.”
For refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic student Dustin Vasil, funding such as this is just another reason why he choose to attend the Penticton campus.
“This funding is a big deal. It gives us the highest-end equipment to work on and gives an edge,” said Vasil, who is originally from Kamloops. “I like Penticton, it is a nice city and this facility is amazing. It has top-notch equipment and tools.”
Keeping those looking to advance in their trade and further their schooling close to home is one of the benefits of this type of funding that was touted by the Minster of Advanced Education Andrew Wilkinson.
Read more: Trades expansion at Okanagan College
“We are very keen to make sure students have the ability to learn in their own communities and stay in their own communities. I think we all know the Okanagan is a growing area and we are very keen to have the young people in the Okanagan get trained and build up their lives here and run the businesses of the future,” said Wilkinson. “This is a great opportunity to train people who are going to earn a good living, right here in the Okanagan.”
Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton said the ability to purchase new equipment for their shops will benefit a range of programs, adding value to the learning experience for their students.
The funding will go towards the purchase of a natural gas oven for the refrigeration and air conditioning program. It will also benefit students in the automotive service, construction, heavy mechanic, plumber/pipefitter, sheet metal, welder and cook/baker programs.
The Ministry of Advanced Education has invested more than $2.3 million in trades-training equipment at Okanagan College through B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint and almost $2 million toward the $33-million Okanagan College Trades Renewal Project.
Nearly one million job openings are expected in B.C. over the next decade and eight out of 10 of these openings will require post-secondary education
“The Okanagan College does a remarkably good job all through the Okanagan from Salmon Arm, Sicamous right down to the border. We have campuses in a number locations and four regional deans because we are operating programs that are responsive to the communities and designed to make it attractive for the students to stay right there in their home town to get the training they need,” said Wilkinson. “Okanagan College does a really good job and has an excellent reputation.”
A total of 15 public post-secondary institutions throughout the province will benefit from the $6.1 million in funding announced on Thursday.