Okanagan College Opens New Trades Training House, With Help from Federal Government & Donors
The next generation of carpenters, plumbers, and electricians are stepping into a state-of-the-art new training space at Okanagan College this week thanks to investment from the Government of Canada, the College and a host of industry and community partners.
Stephen Fuhr, Kelowna-Lake Country Member of Parliament, visited the Kelowna campus on Tuesday to officially open the College’s new Trades Training House.
The 2,700 square-foot facility is designed to simulate a real-world jobsite that will constantly change as new techniques, technologies and building materials emerge.
The opening wasn’t Fuhr’s first trip to the Trades Training House site. In March 2017, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Fuhr helped the College break ground for the building after announcing $332,485 in support for the project from the Federal Government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund.
“Skilled tradespeople play a vital role in ensuring the economic prosperity of the Okanagan and communities across the country,” said Fuhr. “Between the Trades Training House in Kelowna and the Trades Training Centre under construction at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus, the Federal Government has invested nearly $3 million to enhance the College’s infrastructure and support its work to equip the tradespeople of today and future generations who will train in these facilities. The Trades Training House is going to benefit students and our local employers looking for skilled workers for years to come.”
Beyond future carpenters, plumbers and pipefitters and electricians, the facility will also serve students in the College’s Residential Construction, Sheet Metal Worker, Women in Trades Training and Aboriginal Gateway to the Building Trades programs.
Kelowna’s Sarah McGuire is one of those students.
“The more hands-on training we can get, the more experience and confidence we’ll have when we step onto the jobsite,” says McGuire, who is currently completing the Plumbing and Piping Foundation program. “Having a space that functions just like the real-world and gives us lots of variety in terms of equipment we’re working on, and the various stages of installation and repair, is incredibly valuable.”
Among those donors investing in the training of students like McGuire is Lee Keenan, Owner of Legacy Garage Doors. Keenan’s company contributed garage doors to the project, worth about $3,100.
“The success of our business is based on our ability to offer our customers extremely high quality products and services – and a big part of that is having access to skilled workers,” notes Keenan. “We’re proud to be a part of the Trades Training House and supporting the futures of the countless tradespeople who will train here.”
“The beauty of the Trades Training House is that it will benefit students across so many programs and stages of training, while offering us the flexibility to offer new programming as industry needs change locally, across the province and beyond,” said Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “We’re immensely grateful to the Federal government for its investment in trades training at the College. I would also like to extend our gratitude to the many donors and industry partners who have stepped up with significant and varied contributions to help outfit the space.”
The house will also give the College and industry a space to pursue new programming, work-integrated learning and applied research projects.
Plans are in the works to add a solar photovoltaic array to the roof to capture energy and provide a tool for the College to be able to offer training in solar panel installation, maintenance and repair in future.
It is expected that more than 300 students will train in the facility per year.
The total cost for the project was approximately $1,060,000. To date – not including the federal government’s commitment – the College has received more than $384,000 in donations and gifts-in-kind toward the project. The College will contribute the remainder of the cost.