The College of the Rockies is getting $187,000 in funding from the provincial government that is going towards equipment for trades training programs.
Announced by Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett on Friday, the funding will directly benefit students in the automotive service technician, heavy duty equipment technician and piping trades programs.
“Students at the College of the Rockies will have the opportunity to develop hands-on experience on industry-standard tools and equipment that are being used at workplace in their communities,” said Bennett. “Our government is putting student first in line for jobs in our diverse, strong and growing economy.”
The funding will be split between the three trades programs and will go to equipment purchases that are built specifically for training purposes.
“It’s equipment that has been specifically designed for training in this exact area,” said John White, an instructor with the Automotive Service Technician program. “So you have to think about how getting used and old parts is something that we’ve done in the past to make our programs run, so having new and updated quality components and test equipment that are built for training are really important.”
Bennett highlighted the importance of having industry-standard trades training at the College of the Rockies, noting that all but one of the 16 students were from Cranbrook.
He praised the government’s BC Skills for Jobs Blueprint, which has identified one million job openings in B.C. by 2025 — two thirds of which will come from retirements.
“Eight out of ten of those jobs will require post-secondary education or trades training,” Bennett said, as he addressed the student apprentices during the announcement. “There is just no doubt that you’re doing the right thing.”
The focus on filling in-demand jobs has been a government priority for a few years through the Skills for Jobs Blueprint, which was an opportunity to give trades training a higher profile at post-secondary institutions.
“We had to find a way to re-engineer our post-secondary education system and we started to focus money more on this kind of a program than some of the things we were doing before,” Bennett said.
“What we did generally, was we said 25 per cent of the operating grants for public post-secondary institutions like College of the Rockies, would go to support in-demand jobs.”
Jack Moes, the Dean of Trades and Technology at COTR, says that government funding support is vital in industries where equipment is expensive and can quickly become outdated.
“In order for us to continue to play a vital role in preparing skilled workers to support the B.C. economy, it is critical that our students have access to and are trained on the most up-to-date equipment and technology possible,” Moes said.