Province pumping more money into trades training at Okanagan College

The B.C. government has announced another $7.4 million to add 2,667 seats at the college's new trades training complex in Kelowna

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The British Columbia government is giving Okanagan College another $7.44 million to add more spaces for trades training.

The new 2,667 “high-priority” trades training seats at the college’s new $35-million trades training complex on the KLO campus in Kelowna will see more electricians, welders, cooks, heavy mechanics and carpenters trained there.

The investment is being made through the Industry Training Authority (ITA),which leads and co-ordinates B.C.’s skilled trades system by working with employers, employees, industry, labour, training providers and government to issue credentials, manage apprenticeships, set program standards and increase opportunities in the trades.

The funding is part of the ITA’s annual allocation to B.C. post-secondary institutions and training providers to run various training programs throughout the province.

“The annual investment in our trades programming by the province is critical to providing students – and the communities we serve – with the education that will help drive our region’s economic vitality,” said Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton.

“Coupled with community and employer support, this investment allows us to offer the programs that will give students the skills they need and that industry is looking for.”

In response to the objectives outlined in the government’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint and the McDonald Report, the B.C. government has worked in partnership with the ITA to begin building a demand-driven trades training system with funding aligned to specific in-demand trades.

Currently, the province invests more than $94 million annually in industry training through the ITA.

“There is growing interest in trade careers across the province and the investment announced today will ensure British Columbians have the opportunity to access training in high-priority trades so that they are equipped with the right skills to respond to the job opportunities to come,” said Gary Herman, ITA CEO.

There are currently more than 39,000 registered apprentices in the industry training system—more than double the 14,676 apprentices registered when ITA was created in 2004.

B.C. is expecting up to one million job openings by 2025 due to retirements and economic growth. The government says eight per cent of those job will require post-secondary education or trades training.