Rotary Club of Kelowna supports Okanagan College efforts to elevate trades training in the region

"The new trades training complex will help us be proactive in addressing the skills gap projected for trades and technical training in B.C."

Tradespeople do more than just build houses, they help build communities. This is one of the key messages that a local Rotary club hopes the community will take away from its decision to support the new trades training complex at Okanagan College.

The Rotary Club of Kelowna has pledged $75,000 to the Bright Horizons, Building for Skills fundraising campaign supporting the $33-million renovation and expansion project currently underway at the College’s Kelowna Campus.

“Our club has a long history of supporting education,” says Club President Dennis Campbell. “It’s an important part of the culture of what we do. Be it through creating bursaries at the College, or supporting major projects like this, we’re very passionate about helping the next generation of students achieve their educational goals.”

“Trades are a key thrust in our economy,” notes Campbell, “and so it seemed only natural for us to support the training of these young apprentices. When you think about it, you can’t step out your front door and go very far without coming into contact with something that a tradesperson has helped to build, wire, plumb, weld, and so on.”

“We had a chance to speak with students and instructors at the College and learn about the plan for the building,” says Ross Gilley, past-President of the Club. “And when we saw how the expansion will enhance space and equipment for students, we knew it was a worthy project. The College’s efforts will really elevate the profile of trades as a career path in the Okanagan, and we’re proud to support that.”

“The new trades training complex will help us be proactive in addressing the skills gap projected for trades and technical training in B.C. over the next decade,” says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “It is truly gratifying for the College to see people and organizations from all over our region stepping up to support the project.”

“We appreciate the Rotary Club of Kelowna’s generous investment in our campus and our students’ futures.”

When doors open in spring of 2016, the three-storey tower will be a significant update for Okanagan College’s trades facilities, some of which date back to the 1960s. The complex will be able to accommodate over 2,400 students per year in trades programs. Okanagan College is currently the second largest trades training institution in B.C.

“Our students have a reputation for excellence that we’re very proud of,” says Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “As do our instructors. This new facility will provide an incredible space to learn and work, and, we believe, will further establish the Okanagan region as a hub for trades training in Western Canada.”

The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project. The $7-million Bright Horizons campaign to top up this funding includes $5 million for capital construction and $2 million for program and student support—which will allow the College to explore new trades programs in high demand, as well as create awards and bursaries for students.

The Okanagan College Foundation announced in February that the campaign has officially reached the halfway mark of its overall goal, with over $3.5 million raised. To learn more about the campaign, opportunities to give, and to get involved with the project, please visit http://www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.

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