Okanagan College culinary arts students Carson Boyd (left) and Jarod Beaton flambé vegetables during the announcement by Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson that the college is being funded for more trades spaces this year.

Funding boost creates new trades seats at Okanagan College

Okanagan College will receive a funding boost of $281,000 for the 148 additional trades seats.

The province has announced an additional 148 trades training seats will be made available at Okanagan College starting this year, giving students access to training in a variety of in-demand occupations that support a range of sectors that are important to the provincial economy.

Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson made the announcement during a visit at the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College Friday, where the new $33-million Kelowna Trades Complex is under construction and nearing completion.

During his visit, Wilkinson also had the opportunity to see trades training demonstrations and hear firsthand from trades students pursuing in-demand careers

“Our government is putting students first by investing in trades training. B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint builds prosperity in our province by aligning education and training with jobs that are in demand,” said Wilkenson.

Okanagan College will receive a funding boost of $281,000 for the 148 additional trades seats in the professional cook, carpenter, plumber and welder programs.

The new seats include:

  • Carpenter: 32 seats, Level 1
  • Carpenter: 16 seats, Level 2
  • Carpenter: 32 seats, Level 3
  • Plumber: 16 seats, Level 2
  • Professional Cook: 36 seats, Level 2
  • Welder: 16 seats, Level 3

“This additional funding will create more opportunities for people like me. I think the key to achieving success is really to make the most of every opportunity you have. If these programs weren’t funded, there would be far fewer chances for people like me,” said Okanagan College level two cook training student Nathan Robinson.

The announcement coincided with the two-year anniversary of B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, launched by government on April 29, 2014. It outlines a plan to re-engineer the education system by aligning education and training with in-demand jobs in British Columbia.

The government estimates one million jobs will be need to be filled in trades by 2020, with 100,000 of them here in the Okanagan.

Wilkinson praised Okanagan College for its success in training future tradesmen and women and noted OC is now the second largest trainer of tradespeople in the province after BCIT in the Lower Mainland.

“I have a hard time thinking of a more successful institution in the province,” Wilkinson told OC president Jim Hamilton Friday. “You are one of the models of success around B.C.

As such, he added, the government felt it was time to reward Okanagan College with an additional $281,000 in funding for the 148 new trades seats.

The minister said In the last two years,the province has spent  just under $2 million to create 585 trades training spaces at the college, spent $1.8 million on equipment for trades programs and provided $28 million of the $33 million cost of the new trades traders training complex currently under construction on that the KLO Road campus.

Over the next 10 years, government says it will redirect $3 billion in training investments across B.C. to focus on skills and programs for in-demand jobs to better align annual investments to meet emerging labour market needs. In-demand occupations that require post-secondary education or training range from professional to management to trades in a range of sectors including technology, natural resources and health care.