As a potential skills shortage looms that could affect the automotive sector in the Okanagan within the next five years, a local autobody shop owner is helping Okanagan College rev up excitement for careers in collision repair.
Boyd Autobody and Glass recently presented the College with a unique demonstration piece – a mobile collision repair demonstration vehicle which can be transported to local high schools.
Boyd’s pwner Methal Abougoush, who volunteers his time as an industry advisor for the college’s collision repair programs, has been touring the vehicle around Kelowna and sharing tips of the trade with students.
“If we don’t continue to promote and drive young people into careers in the trades we simply won’t have the skilled workers our industry needs,” said Abougoush. “Our company is very supportive of the training offered by the college. It is so beneficial to the Okanagan to have this training available locally.”
In addition to the demonstration unit valued at over $15,000, Boyd Autobody and Glass has also donated to support much needed locker space in the new trades building under construction at the Kelowna campus.
Collision repair facilities at the college are currently receiving upgrades as part of the $33-million 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion that will wrap up this spring with the opening of the new Trades Training Complex.
“It’s an exciting time for Collision Repair and for all our programs,” said college dean of trades and apprenticeship Steve Moores. “The donations of equipment, tools, and support for the new trades facilities and for our students are helping us continue to enhance our programs. We’re very grateful to all the donors who have stepped forward to support the project.”
Would-be students interested in starting training in collision repair at Okanagan College in 2016 should take note: an essay competition is running until the end of January. Entrance bursaries valued at up to $5,000 each will be awarded to 10 students who demonstrate financial need and who are able to enrol in eligible trades programs this year. More information is available at okanagan.bc.ca/foundation.
“One of the messages I always share with students and parents is that there is so much mobility in the trades,” explained Abougoush. “You can start your career as a technician and end up as a business owner. I only see the demand for this skill continuing to grow.”
The efforts of students are also helping to raise money and awareness for the program. Vehicles donated to the collision repair department are repaired and auctioned off by the Okanagan College Foundation.
Proceeds go back into the program to purchase parts, equipment, and vehicles for the students to work on. In November, a 2010 Toyota Matrix with rear collision damage was repaired and auctioned off for $6,800 to benefit students.