Okanagan College is getting a major facelift to ensure future welders, heavy-duty mechanics, electricians, plumbers and other skilled workers get the training they need.
The B.C. government is providing $28 million under B.C.’s Skills and Training Plan to expand and renovate trades training facilities at the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College.
“The Construction Sector Council is currently predicting a conservative shortfall of 20,000 skilled workers for British Columbia, after all B.C. sources of labour are tapped into, so enabling more seats for apprentices is absolutely essential if we want to keep B.C. building,” said Patrick Waunch, head of Rambow Mechanical, chair of the B.C. Construction Association, and chair of the program advisory committee for the plumbing and HVAC department at Okanagan College.
The existing shops and classrooms will be fully renovated and retrofitted to modernize and better utilize the space.
A two-storey addition will more than double the size of the complex, providing needed student space and innovative classrooms for trades and technology programs specifically focused on skills development, training and upgrading.
The project responds to a growing demand for trades-related training.
At the Kelowna campus trades training has more than doubled over the last 10 years, requiring the addition of two off-site leased facilities. The renewal project will bring more than 750 students back to the main campus.
Once completed, the new Trades Complex will be able to accommodate up to 2,408 students and apprentices, up from the current capacity of about 2,280.
“Across British Columbia we are seeing the results of hard work – increases in both the level of investment as well as the number of jobs,” said Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training.
“Now we are doubling down to ensure British Columbians have access to the trades training facilities that will give them the skills to compete, that will let our children find jobs in British Columbia.”
“This $33-million project will provide much-needed revitalization and renewal for Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, creating additional capacity for students and apprentices in a building that will be a showcase for sustainability,” said Jim Hamilton, president of Okanagan College. “Just as a decision 50 years ago to invest in trades training facilities here has had an immeasurable impact in this region, the decision to invest in developing this showcase for training will yield positive change and pride that can be shared by students, industry, the community, the college and government.”