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More money for skills training programs at Okanagan College

The B.C. government is investing $18.7 million to create more than 3,000 new seats in skills training programs at colleges and universities across the province.

And, according to the provincial jobs ministry, Okanagan College will get just over $1 million of that money for three programs, a seven-week week course to prepare students for entry level positions in the oil and gas industry, a  management skills training course for the hospitality, tourism, business and finance industries and an 11-week certificate course in office administration.

In August, Okanagan College and the province announced how more than $550,000 in one-time funding  would be used to offer skilled trades-related training in the region. That money is believed to be part of the $1 million announced for OC Monday.

The college expects to create 110 seats over the coming year, including training in mining, oil and gas-related supervision and safety, and green building design, among others.

The new funding is on top of the $28 million in capital funding the government recently announced to renovate, upgrade and expand the trades training facilities at the OC campus on KLO Road. That move is expected to add 750 students to the college's main campus once complete because facilities currently leased by the college elsewhere will no longer be needed.

The traders training facility upgrade and expansion is expected to be complete in four years time.

The newly announced provincial BC Jobs Plan funding is being provided to 17 colleges and universities, including Okanagan College, under the Employment Skills Access program.

The money will help the institutions deliver skills training in a variety of programs, varying from nautical training to forestry boot camps and from health-care assistant programs to heavy equipment operator and mining technician  programs.

The money is coming from within government's existing fiscal plan.

Through ESA, eligible British Columbians are provided with tuition-free, group-based training at public post-secondary institutions to prepare them for entry or re-entry into the labour force. ESA skills training programs are primarily focused on preparing participants for entry-level employment in industries, sectors or occupations that are currently experiencing, or are projected to experience, labour or skills shortages.

Training programs are expected to be at least three weeks in duration, to a maximum of 12 months, with an emphasis on programs that provide participants with provincially or industry-recognized credentials. For occupations with established provincial standards for training and certification, training programs must follow and meet those standards.

Participants in programs must be unemployed individuals who have not made an Employment Insurance claim in the past three years, or five years in the case of maternity/parental leave.

"Investing in skills training seats in our colleges and universities lowers barriers for people so they can improve their skills and put unemployed British Columbians in a better position to access the workforce," Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology Minister John Yap.

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