Tour of the trades

With a completion date of March 2016, the new trades training complex at Okanagan College is under construction.

About 5,100 square metres of shops and classes will be renovated and an additional 5,500 square metres will be added. More than 2,000 students are expected to study there next year.

Donning hard hats and safety vests, provincial politicians toured the progress on Wednesday.

Steve Moores with the college told the group its largest trade program is electrical, with 700 students enrolled.

“The top floor of the three-storey addition will have nine classrooms ... on the second level, it’s a combination of classrooms, computer labs and staff offices.”

Welding will be the second largest program in the new space, with 300 students.

“Trades that will be coming to this facility will be the sheet metal, the plumbing and the electrical programs that are currently over on Penno Road and Acland Road,” said Moores.

The increased space will allow for expansion of programs like plumbing, and steam fitter and pipe fitter programs will be added. Moores says the plumbing trade is in high demand on the B.C. Skills for Jobs Blueprint, a re-engineering of education and training to help align with in-demand jobs.

Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson joined Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick and Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson on the tour. Wilkinson told media the expansion at Okanagan College is important to the province’s trades training program.

“We are putting in a total of $28 million into the building. It will cost a total of $33 million and, in addition to that, we have put in $1.7 million into trades training equipment and also another $1.7 million to create 355 trades training spaces here at Okanagan College,” he said.

When the new trades complex opens, there will be no down time for students as the change over between buildings is set to be seamless to ensure no class time will be missed.

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