Back to school for RV pros at Okanagan College

Alumni technician grads return to Kelowna campus to bone up on new equipment and repair techniques in the RV vehicle industry.

  • Feb. 8, 2016 4:00 p.m.

Carl Hollmann testing a circuit on an RV air conditioner at Okanagan College.  

Carl Hollmann is among those Okanagan College alumni who relish the close working relationship that his alma mater has with the Recreation Vehicle industry that has provided him with a fulfilling career.

Hollmann, who runs his own business in Nanaimo, was among 24 RV technicians gathered in early February at Okanagan College for industry-led training that familiarizes them with the most recent equipment and techniques used in the industry.

Most of them – like Hollmann – are Red Seal tradespeople and graduates of the College’s RV Service Technician program, which is the only one in the province.

The industry training was organized by the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of B.C. (RVDABC) and Okanagan College. Manufacturers and equipment suppliers came to the College’s Kelowna campus to provide the service techs with information about new technology.

“It was tremendous,” explains Hollmann, who has been a tech for 16 years. “Atwood Mobile Products was on hand Monday to show us and explain their new furnaces and water heaters. They have executed a complete redesign on their product line but it’s so fresh there are no service manuals yet, and tech support isn’t completely up to speed.”

“We run into the products in the RVs we service and this is the best way to bring yourself up to speed.”

Other manufacturers on hand included Dometic Corporation, Demco/Hijacker and Canadian Energy.

Hollmann, who has also done duty on occasion as an instructor at the college, is also a fervent advocate for the program and the career opportunities being an RV Service Tech affords.

“I’ve traveled around the world with it,” he says. “I went to Australia and worked for an RV dealership there. Inside two weeks I was shop foreman. They don’t have the kind of training program in Australia that we have here.”

He also used it when he went “snowbirding” to the southern U.S. – and ended up working for several months on inverters and solar panels for RVs.

The best part about being an RV Service Technician, though, says Hollmann is simple: “It’s being able to fix your own everything.”

RV Service Techs get training in electrical systems, mechanics, plumbing, gas-fitting, construction, carpentry – it’s a collection of skills rolled into one apprenticeable trade, which has significant employer demand. Government statistics show that 95 per cent of Okanagan College’s RV Service Technician apprentices are employed.

“Many of the students who enrol in the RV program are surprised at how extensive the skill set they develop is,” said Cam McRobb, the chair of the college’s Motor Vehicle Trades Department. “The other thing – the really important thing – is that there is demand for trained technicians.”

“That demand, and the changing nature of the industry, is one of the reasons we work with Okanagan College to offer these professional development opportunities,” explained Joan Jackson, RVDABC’s executive director. “Our member companies have a vested interest in ensuring their technicians are as up-to-speed on new technologies and equipment as is possible. It’s part of their commitment to their customer base.”

Okanagan College will be offering a new intake of its 28-week foundation program in RV Service Technician in September 2016. For more information, you can call (250) 762-5445, ext. 4558 or email jitterman@okanagan.bc.ca.

 

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