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Kelowna  

New funding for trades programs

The trades program at Okanagan College is getting a boost from the provincial government as part of B.C.’s skills for jobs blueprint commitment.

The school will receive $171,428 to purchase new equipment for students entering in-demand occupations. Examples includes such things as a scissor lift, pavement breaker, engine lift, masonry saws and jackhammers.

Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson made the announcement in Kelowna.

“We’ve very concerned about the future of trades in British Columbia,” Wilkinson says. “We’re diverting a good chunk of our budget into trade-specific programming in the next three years.”

He says the government is in the process of training one million people over the next 10 years to replace about 700,000 workers who will be retiring.

“We’re also interested in training people for future industries, including LNG, so that we have the workforce in B.C. to keep them employed in those industries in the future.”

Similar announcements were made today in Terrace and Prince George, as Wilkinson says there is still a growing demand for skilled trades.

One of the students who will take advantage of the new equipment is Spencer Copan. The 17-year-old Okanagan Mission Secondary student is part of the college’s dual-credit program. That allows him to take classes at the college while fulfilling his credits toward high school graduation – and getting an early start on his future career as a heavy-duty mechanic.

“I’ve always been interested in the larger equipment and trucks. Now I have an opportunity to see how everything works, how they’re repaired, fixed and made. It’s a pretty cool experience.”

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