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High school shop upgrades are the goal of a new fund raising initiative

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The Construction Foundation of B.C. (CFBC) has launched a new fund raising campaign to provide grants to school districts for much needed upgrades to high school shop facilities.

The Construction Foundation of B.C. (CFBC) has launched a new fund raising campaign to provide grants to school districts for much needed upgrades to high school shop facilities.

“I tell you this thing is really starting to take off. We have already sent out application forms to high schools and the submissions are coming in fast and furious”, said Abigail Fulton, executive director of the CFBC.

“We have scheduled a fundraiser kick off on Feb. 20 at a Vancouver school. We have invited the premier to attend and will be naming grant recipients.”

B.C. high schools and school districts were recently invited by the CFBC to submit applications for a grant that can be used for a range of capital improvements to trades training facilities.

To support this new initiative, the foundation has already started work to raise $2 million from the industrial, commercial and institutional construction sectors in 2014.

“It amazing how great the need is out there at B.C. high schools,” said Fulton.

“Some of these facilities have not been upgraded since 1964, but the situation is different in each school district. There is a wide variety of needs.”

The funds raised by the foundation will be used to provide a number of grants for equipment and upgrades, with a minimum of one school being selected in each of four regions of the province (North, Southern Interior, Vancouver Regional and Vancouver Island).

“B.C. is facing a serious shortage of skilled workers and something needs to shift in the way things are done,” said Don Nishimura, chairman of the CFBC board.

“Today’s youth need a chance to explore all their career choices equally before they graduate from high school. Better equipped shop classes mean schools can provide a stronger introduction to the skilled trades and we hope this will help boost awareness that B.C.’s construction sector is a great option and a place to build a rewarding career.”

Applicants for the funding must identify specific needs and demonstrate a proven commitment to the trades.

Successful candidates can receive grant funding for a range of capital improvements, such as equipment and facility upgrades.

The successful grant recipients will be announced at a foundation gala dinner on Feb. 20, 2014.

“The shop teachers are the real heroes because they are the ones that keeps these facilities going and keep the students interested,” said Fulton.

“One of the unintended benefits of these grants is that they also help to keep these teachers motivated.”

This initiative is designed to meet the CFBC’s main objectives, which are to increase awareness of the opportunities in the construction industry and help to train journeypersons.

BuildForce Canada estimates that the B.C. construction industry will need to attract and retain 30,500 new workers to meet labour requirements between 2013 and 2021.

According to the CFBC, only one in 32 high school graduates enter the trades.

However, B.C. needs that number to be as high as one in five in order to meet expected skills shortages.

The CFBC was officially launched in November 2012 to give the provincial construction industry a mechanism for making charitable contributions that support B.C. apprenticeship programs.

To mark the occasion, the new foundation presented a $65,000 donation to New Westminster’s Honour House.

Honour House Society gives Canadian Forces personnel, emergency responders and their families a place to stay, completely free of charge, while they receive medical care and treatment in the Metro Vancouver area.

The inaugural contribution recognized the important work of Honour House.

The $65,000 contribution assisted with the installation of a new elevator, which made the building more accessible for wheelchairs and gurneys.

by Richard Gilbert

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