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Kelowna  

Sentes gives trades boost

One of the valley’s most prominent auto dealer groups has pledged $50,000 toward the renovation and expansion of Okanagan College’s Trades Training Complex.

Sentes Automotive made the commitment toward the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign to support a student study space in the new trades tower currently under construction.

“Our company recognizes the impact that new trades students and apprentices have, not only on our business, but on the industry as a whole throughout the Okanagan,” said Sentes general manager Adam Rich. “We see the skills and the energy these young people bring to the table, and we’re proud to support their training."

The new complex will allow the college to train more than 2,400 students and apprentices every year, which will help further establish this region as a hub for trades training, said Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton. 

Rich is also automotive sector chair of the Bright Horizons campaign. 

“It is great forethought on the college’s part to make this expansion now, with all the projections pointing to a shortage in skilled labour over the next decade," he said. "This new complex is a great way to stay out in front of that.”

Sentes operates six dealerships from Vernon to Penticton and is one of the largest automotive industry employers in the region, with 265 employees.

The Bright Horizons campaign for the $33-million complex renovation and expansion project launched in October 2014. The goal of the campaign is to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support. The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project.

Rich says the buzz around the campaign has been positive among auto dealers. A Kelowna Auto Dealers Association’s pledge of $10,000 was one of the early donations that helped to kick off the campaign, and dealerships throughout the valley have collectively provided more than $600,000 to date.

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