Trades students at Vancouver Island University (VIU) will benefit from hands-on learning opportunities through a new investment of $187,071 in industry-standard trades-training equipment, as well as $4.85 million in continued support for 1,366 trades seats.
Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell announced the funding amounts during a visit to the university on behalf of Minister of Advanced Education Andrew Wilkinson and Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Shirley Bond.
“These investments mean that students will get additional opportunities to study toward rewarding trades careers in their communities,” Stilwell said. “We are working with post-secondary institutions such as Vancouver Island University to make sure that British Columbians will be first in line for in-demand jobs in our strong, diverse and growing economy.”
The new funding will be used to purchase equipment in a number of programs including automotive, refrigeration and air conditioning, welding, electrical, carpentry and heavy-mechanical trades to assist students with hands-on learning opportunities to develop skills for in-demand careers as part of B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint.
The $4.85-million government investment through the Industry Training Authority (ITA) will fund trades seats in various VIU programs including cooking, welding, heavy mechanics, electrical and carpentry through to March 31, 2017. The funding is part of the annual ITA allocation to B.C. post-secondary institutions and training providers to run various training programs throughout the province.
The provincial government invests more than $94 million in industry training through the ITA. The ITA leads and co-ordinates the skilled trades system in British Columbia by working with employers, employees, industry, labour, training providers and government to issue credentials, manage apprenticeships, set program standards and increase opportunities in the trades.
“Vancouver Island University is focused on working with our industry partners to ensure we are providing relevant and hands-on learning that puts our students at a distinct advantage in the workplace,” said VIU president Dr. Ralph Nilson. “Funding such as this, which supports trades equipment and seats, will make sure VIU students graduate equipped with the skills they need to meet growing demand in the trades.”
VIU has received a total of $1.5 million since the launch of B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint toward the purchase of industry-standard trades-training equipment, as well as $1.9 million toward 372 additional critical trades-training seats.
“ITA is proud to work with government and Vancouver Island University to build a skilled workforce in B.C.,” said Gary Herman, CEO of the Industry Training Authority. “These funds will mean that B.C. is able to meet the growing need for capable, experienced workers.”
Government is investing $185 million in new trades training equipment and facilities through B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint to support students entering in-demand careers in the natural resource, industrial, marine, construction or hospitality sectors. For example, the B.C. Labour Market Outlook 2024 estimates that there will be 5,950 job openings for automotive service technicians, truck and bus mechanics and mechanical repairers.
“It’s important to have a training facility close to home,” said Mike Johnson, resource manager at Harbourview Volkswagen. “It guarantees that we have the resources close by for recruiting and training. It’s also exciting that equipment is being updated so students are training on technology that’s in step with what the industry is using.”
Government launched B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint in April 2014 to align education and training with in-demand jobs in B.C. so that British Columbians have the skills and training they need to take advantage of the diverse, strong and growing economy.
“Heavy duty mechanics are in huge demand and I see long-term viability in this career,” said Paul Persson, a student in the heavy-mechanical trades foundation program at VIU. “This program is strengthening BC’s future and keeping the talent at home where it belongs. It is also important that technology and training equipment is kept up to date as there is such a rapid pace of change in the industry and it is important we are able to graduate with relevant skills.”
Nearly one million job openings are expected in B.C. over the next decade, and eight out of ten of these openings will require post-secondary education. In-demand occupations requiring post-secondary education or training range from professional to management to trades.