Andrew Broadbent is one of the Okanagan’s would-be tradespeople who is benefitting from the Province’s decision to fund an additional 203 trades-focused seats at Okanagan College this year.
The 17-year-old Summerland resident is scheduled to start his electrical foundation program in September at the College’s Penticton campus, and he has his eyes on the growing number of jobs in the trades and the opportunity for a lucrative career that those present.
“I’m excited about being able to take the program this year instead of having to wait,” says Broadbent. “It’s good news.”
Broadbent acknowledges that part of his motivation for taking the program is what he’s heard about the coming skills shortage and the opportunities that major projects will create. Going north to advance his career may factor into his plans after he has finished his foundation program and proceeds through the apprenticeship path.
The provincial government revealed recently that Okanagan College was getting the additional seats in a number of program areas, part of a larger commitment to create more than 1,400 new foundation and apprenticeship seats at the college and 13 other public post-secondary institutions. It is part of the provincial Skills for Jobs Blueprint initiative aimed at increasing access and reducing waitlists for trades critical to the liquefied natural gas industry and other sectors. Okanagan College will be getting:
· 18 steam / pipefitter foundation seats
· 49 welder foundation seats
· 30 heavy equipment operator foundation seats
· 86 electrical foundation seats
· 20 heavy-duty equipment mechanic foundation seats.
“These are all areas where there is significant demand, and we welcome the extra investment in the trades,” says Steven Moores, Okanagan College’s dean of trades and apprenticeship. “In some instances, we’ve already made decisions about where and when the programs will be offered. In other instances, we are still discussing the best location and timing of the new intakes associated with the additional seats.”
“Sometimes we lose track of the personal impact of decisions like this,” says Moores. “Andrew is just one of the people who are going to benefit from the investment. There are employers who are eager to see more trained people come out of our institutions who will be pleased with this news as well.”
The seats (and associated $928,000 funding) announced this week will add an additional eight per cent capacity to the 2,498 Okanagan College trades seats already funded by the Industry Training Authority.
Okanagan College is in the midst of a $33-million expansion and renovation of its Trades Training Complex in Kelowna. The project, supported with $28-million of provincial funding, is expected to be complete by early 2016.