Jaret Boileau, a first year pre-apprenticeship student at Okanagan College workers on an electrical box at the new Trades Training House on the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College Tuesday. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Home sweet home for Okanagan College trades students

New Trades Training House gives students hands-on experience

The next generation of carpenters, plumbers, and electricians are stepping into a new, state-of-the-art training space at Okanagan College thanks to investment from the federal government, the college and a host of industry and community partners.

The new, 2,700 square-foot Trades Training House opened Tuesday and is designed to simulate a real-world job site that will constantly change as new techniques, technologies and building materials emerge.

The $1.6 million two-storey building received $332,000 from Ottawa’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund.

“Skilled tradespeople play a vital role in ensuring the economic prosperity of the Okanagan and communities across the country,” said Kelowna-Lake Country Mp Stephen Fuhr, who was on hand for the opening Tuesday.

“Between the Trades Training House in Kelowna and the Trades Training Centre under construction at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus, the federal government has invested nearly $3 million to enhance the college’s infrastructure and support its work to equip the tradespeople of today and future generations who will train in these facilities.”

Fuhr said the Trades Training House on the Kelowna campus is going to benefit students and local employers looking for skilled workers for years to come.

Beyond future carpenters, plumbers, pipefitters and electricians, the facility will also serve students in the college’s residential construction, sheet metal workers, Women in Trades Training and Aboriginal Gateway to the Building Trades programs.

Kelowna’s Sarah McGuire is one of those students.

“The more hands-on training we can get, the more experience and confidence we’ll have when we step onto the job site,” said McGuire, who is currently completing the plumbing and piping foundation program. “Having a space that functions just like the real-world and gives us lots of variety in terms of equipment we’re working on, and the various stages of installation and repair is incredibly valuable.”

OC president Jim Hamilton said the Trades Training House is the last piece of the most recent expansion and modernization of the trades training facilities at the Kelowna OC campus. That project included a new trades building.

“The beauty of the Trades Training House is that it will benefit students across so many programs and stages of training, while offering us the flexibility to offer new programming as industry needs change locally, across the province and beyond,” said Hamilton, who expressed gratitude to the many corporate and individual donors who stepped up with significant and varied contributions to help outfit the new facility.

The house will also give the college and industry a space to pursue new programming, work-integrated learning and applied research projects.

Plans are in the works to add a solar photovoltaic array to the roof to capture energy and provide a tool for the college to be able to offer training in solar panel installation, maintenance and repair in future.

It is expected that more than 300 students will train in the facility per year.

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