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Okanagan College denied funding for women in trades program

The program’s future is in question as the college looks at other potential funding sources
The Jim Pattison Centre for Excellence on Okanagan College’s Penticton campus. (OC Photo)

Okanagan College (OC) has been denied funding for a women in trades program by a B.C. Crown corporation, leaving the program’s future up in the air.

Stephen Speers, OC’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship, told Black Press Media that the college’s application for funding for two programs, Women in Trades Training and Equity in Trades Training, was not selected by SkilledTradesBC for 2024-25.

Speers said OC had met all of the requirements for the grant despite not receiving it, adding OC will be considered in the event of another round of funding.

The Women in Trades program has been around for 16 years, and Speers confirmed that funding has always come from SkilledTradesBC. He did not specify how much funding these grants are worth.

Speers would not say whether this means OC will not offer the programs next school year, only saying that OC “is now looking at next steps and potential options for other funding sources in the future.”

The Women in Trades Training program was a 12-week exploratory program designed to introduce women to trades careers, Speers said. The program currently has a cohort in Penticton and those students will complete the program as planned, and no other OC students are enrolled in the program.

“OC has a shared commitment to supporting women, Indigenous peoples, youth and underrepresented groups and will continue to offer programming that supports people of all backgrounds to be introduced to, and successfully achieve a career in Trades,” Speers said.

He noted that OC has other opportunities for women and other “equity-deserving groups” to be introduced to careers in trades, including priority seating for women and other groups, and bursaries and awards from the OC Foundation.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank and celebrate our Women in Trades team for all their hard work and commitment, and for ensuring the overall success of the Women in Trades programming at Okanagan College,” Speers said.

“Over the past 16 years, the Women in Trades team has provided support and education to nearly 1,500 women, giving them the opportunity to explore many of the amazing career opportunities available in the skilled trades and to begin their technical training.”

Speers also took the opportunity to highlight an upcoming event. On May 15, OC will host Jill of all Trades, which is a chance for female Okanagan students in Grades 9-12 to visit OC for the day and get hands-on experience in the trades.

Black Press reached out to SkilledTradesBC but did not receive a response by the time of this story’s publication.

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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started at the Morning Star as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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