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BCIT gets funding windfall for in-demand trades

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by Russell Hixson

B.C. Institute of Technology will get $1.35 million from the province to add seats and reduce waiting times for critical trades training.
BCIT gets funding windfall for in-demand trades

The money will add 272 more seats at BCIT starting as early as September.

The jobs are aligned with the top 12 liquefied natural gas (LNG) jobs which  include welders, industrial electricians, ironworkers, crane operators and heavy duty equipment mechanics.

It is a 4 per cent increase to the 6,739 seats at the school.

"We are actually talking to proponents of major projects in the province and we are charting their programs and projects so that we can tell you when peak construction periods will be in our province and what the jobs are that will be required to move those projects forward," said Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs.

Nearly $800,000 will fund the additional seats and $553,000 will go towards funding equipment and tools.

Officials hope the money will reduce wait times for some trades by as much as 10 months.

"For us this is all about changing lives," said Industry Training Authority interim president Gary Herman at  the school's campus, where the announcement was made.

Dozens of goggle-wearing ironworkers attended the ceremony and later demonstrated their oxy-fuel cutting abilities.

Herman noted that trades offer quality careers with excellent pay, which has the ability to transform someone's life if given the opportunity.

Bond and Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk emphasized that with thousands of jobs looming on the horizon due to retirements and potential projects, they want to exhaust the province and the country to find workers before using temporary foreign workers.

 

"We want British Columbians to be first in line for those jobs," he said.

"I want those students to go from learners to earners in the shortest and best manner."

One of these learners is Thomas Hadaway.

He started the electrical foundation program at BCIT three months ago and will be done in 10 weeks.

After struggling in high school to find his niche, he decided to pursue a trade.

"Sciences have always been my passion and my love and I will always want to pursue that, but I've also got a very technical aspect, I want to do things and that's why I got into trades. It combined my interests," he said.

Hadaway is excited to see more money being invested, but feels more needs to be done to reach kids sooner.

"I think more people need to learn about trades, I think trades offer people a unique perspective on the world, I think skilled labour is something that isn't talked about enough in high schools," he said. "I feel like there needs to be more support at an earlier age."

Ryan Downey, an ironwork instructor at BCIT came to the province during the Olympic boom and decided to stay.

He said 100 per cent of the students that successfully complete the programs find jobs in the union and about 80 per cent finish their full apprenticeship to become journeymen.

"It's easy to get into the job for the money but we don't really want people like that. We want people who want to have pride in their work," he said. "If you're in it for the money, you can get hurt pretty quick in this business if your mind isn't on your craft at all times."

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