Okanagan College first in the province to offer expanded heavy mechanical trades program
Okanagan College is the first B.C. College to respond to industry needs by offering a revised Heavy Mechanical Trades program developed to train students in four separate trades in high demand.
“We have been providing training in Heavy Duty Equipment and Commercial Transport Mechanics for five decades,” said Randy Werger, Associate Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “Heavy Duty was one of our first programs and a lot has changed in 50 years. We have constantly adapted the curriculum to meet industry demands.
“Our program used to cover training in two distinct areas – heavy duty and commercial transport mechanics - we’ve kept those components because they are still extremely valuable and relevant but we’ve added two new elements: diesel engine mechanic and transport trailer technician, which will give students a much broader range of skills and ultimately make them more knowledgeable and employable.”
Three of the four training streams in the 38-week entry-level program lead to Red Seal certification, with the exception of diesel engine mechanic. Students who complete the program receive an Okanagan College certificate, Level 1 technical training credits, and 450 work-based training hours towards one of the four trades from the ITA.
“What is most exciting is that both graduates and employers are going to benefit,” said Werger. “Industry gets more versatile employees with broader skill sets, and graduates can take advantage of flexible further education options and enhanced work opportunities. Everybody wins.”
“Many graduates go up north in search of jobs,” said Cam McRobb, Chair of the Motor Vehicle Department. “But increasingly they will be able to find work locally if they choose. Trades related to oil, gas, and mining are in demand, and this program provides local industry with needed technicians to service equipment for those sectors.”
Heavy Mechanical Trades students will be the first group to benefit from the $33-million Trades Training Complex project, which is underway at the Kelowna campus. Phase one of the project – the renovation and expansion of the Heavy Mechanical Trades shop - was completed in the summer of 2013. The freshly-finished shop and 1,858-square-metre outdoor training space is covered by a canopy housing one of Western Canada’s largest arrays of photovoltaic solar panels. Improvements include a bridge crane and a range of newly-acquired equipment.
“Now we have the full package to meet the training needs for our students as they start their careers: great facilities, a large fleet of current equipment and most importantly great instructors,” said Werger.
When completed, the $33-million trades facility - which includes both a large expansion and renovation of existing space - will serve 2,400 students and apprentices annually and feature approximately 10,600 square-metres of shops and classrooms. The Heavy Mechanical Trades program will reside in a fully renovated 560 square-metre shop.
The 38-week Heavy Mechanical Trades program, which includes a two-week work term, has three annual intakes, with students admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. The next program intake starts on Feb. 3, 2014.
For more information on the program, contact the Okanagan College Trades and Apprenticeship office at 250-862-5457 or toll-free: 1-877-755-2266.
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