The future looks bright for the next generation of electricians in the Okanagan thanks to a major boost from a local contractor that will help the College amp up a cutting edge lab for trades training.
Staff from Horizon Electric recently joined students and employees of Okanagan College to celebrate the announcement of the company’s donation of $100,000 toward the new Trades Training Complex under construction at the Kelowna campus.
“Having a state-of-the-art facility like this in our own backyard is so beneficial to our industry and our community,” said Horizon Electric president Jerry Pasitney.
“This new complex will attract people to the region, keep jobs local and provide the skilled workers needed in the Okanagan and throughout the province. As a local family-owned company we are very proud to be able to support that.”
Students in the electrician program will have access to three new electrical controls labs when the complex opens in the spring of 2016; both will feature the latest equipment, technology, and workstations specifically geared for electricians.
“From top to bottom our new trades training facilities are being designed, built, and outfitted with a great deal of input from our industry partners,” said Okanagan College’s vice-prresident education Andrew Hay. “We are very grateful to Horizon Electric for supporting our vision to create a dynamic, new learning environment for trades students.”
Launched in 2006, the electrician program is the largest program in the college’s trades portfolio with more than 500 FTE (full-time equivalent) enrolments in 2014-15, and is one of the fastest growing trades programs in the province.
The arrival of the new electrical labs next spring will be timely for the college and for students, given the projected demand for electricians in the region.
Over the next seven years, it is expected that the Thompson Okanagan will need more than 1,000 new electricians. Provincially, the government has identified electricians as one of the top trades-sector jobs over the next decade, along with heavy duty mechanics.
The 10,000 sq. metre $33-million renovation project includes a new three-storey tower along KLO. Road, along with upgrades to existing shops. Overall, the college has set the goal of meeting LEED Platinum standards for the new trades facilities. Earlier this year The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at the College’s Penticton campus became the first building of its size in the Okanagan to become LEED Platinum Certified.
As an added benefit of the new space and facilities, the college will also be able to bring back to campus more than 700 students currently training at leased facilities on Acland and Penno Road.
“When the new complex opens it will allow us to bring our Kelowna trades students together in a world-class facility,” explained Hay.
“Community support, as we are witnessing here today from Horizon Electric, is helping us strengthen the bond of community among our students; this is yet another way our donors and industry partners are helping the College build for the future.”
The Okanagan College Foundation is endeavouring to raise $7 million – including $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support – to top up the provincial government’s $28-million investment.
Horizon Electric is a family-run electrical contractor based in Kelowna employing more than 100 people locally. The company has worked on numerous large scale commercial and residential projects, including recent renovations and expansions for Interior Health, and provides services to many small businesses and individual homeowners.