A prominent local construction firm has made a major donation to the fundraising campaign for Okanagan College’s new Trades Training Complex, and the company hopes its donation will inspire others to follow their lead in supporting apprentices.
Team Construction Management Limited, based in Kelowna, has pledged $50,000 to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign. The donation will help to build a leading edge classroom space in the new $33-million complex currently under renovation and expansion along KLO Road.
“As a business owner, foremost in my mind is the fact that we need a good pool of skilled tradespeople to draw from, and that is what the college provides,” said Team Construction founder and president Gord Wilson.
With a skills gap in trades and technical workers predicted as early as 2016 in some trades, the college has set out to proactively upgrade its facilities.
“The Conference Board of Canada has predicted that we will need one million additional skilled workers across the country by 2020,” explained Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton. “Support from industry has been crucial as the College helps to address that skills gap.
“We are very appreciative of Team Construction for supporting this project, as we are of all the businesses and individuals that have stepped up to help us build for the future of trades training in the region.”
Construction on the college’s new trades training complex began last June. Doors are expected to open in spring of 2016. The new complex will almost double capacity for trades students at the Kelowna campus, accommodating over 2,400 students per year.
Okanagan College is currently the second largest trades training institution in the province. The college’s efforts to elevate the learning environment for trades students was a motivating factor in the company’s decision to support the project, says Wilson.
“When you look at the building trades, so much has changed over the past couple of decades. Every day we see new technologies, new materials, new ways of doing things, so trades education and upgrades are crucial and continual,” Wilson said.
“Young people considering trades should know that picking up a hammer is not the end of your earning potential, it’s just the beginning.There are so many opportunities to advance and grow your career in whatever direction you choose. A lot of successful people in our community got started in trades. Now they’re business owners, leaders, innovators in different fields.”
Team Construction’s support of the project goes beyond the donation. Wilson is volunteering his time as a sector chair on the Bright Horizons Campaign, and Team Construction project manager Chuck Cullen—an alumnus of the college’s carpentry program—is also helping the college spread the word about trades careers.
For several years now, Cullen has delivered spotlight sessions at local high schools, educating students about career paths in the building trades.
“My training at the college was very valuable,” said Cullen. “I went from being a student fresh out of high school to someone who felt confident in my skills and confident on the job site.”
“The construction of this new facility is very timely,” added Wilson. “When you look at the growth of the Okanagan, a region our size needs a hub for trades training. It provides opportunity for students and it benefits the economy of the region. I hope others will choose to support it.”
The campaign for the $33-million complex renovation and expansion project launched in October 2014. The goal of the campaign is to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support. The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project.
To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.