With a vast network of automotive-related businesses, the Okanagan will continue to need skilled automotive service technicians, says one Okanagan College donor who has come forward with major support for the college’s new Trades Training Complex.
Kelowna Kia has pledged $50,000 to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign in support of the renovation and expansion of the College’s trades training facilities along KLO Road.
“Having been in the Okanagan for 43 years, I wanted to give something back into the community and the industry that has been very good to me,” said Winfried Gradnitzer, dealer principal of Kelowna Kia.
“I support the College’s vision for this wonderful new facility because I feel it is very important that we continue to develop tradespeople in the Okanagan.”
The donation will help build a new classroom space in the three-storey tower along KLO Road, part of the 10,000 square-metre renovation and expansion project.
“We know that a significant percentage of the projected job openings in our province over the next decade will require trades and technical training,” said Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton.
“This new facility, which will accommodate more than 2,600 students per year, will allow us to be proactive in training the skilled workers needed in our region, across the province, and throughout Western Canada.
“We are very appreciative of Kelowna Kia’s investment in our students and our campus as we build for the next fifty years of trades training at Okanagan College.”
Gradnitzer points out that investing in new tradespeople benefits many sectors of our regional economy, not just the trades.
“Helping young people get started in automotive careers is certainly good for our industry but it also has a positive effect on many others sectors. This new complex will be good for our community as a whole.”
Launched in October of last year, the Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign aims to raise $7 million—$5 million for capital construction and $2 million for student and program support—to complement the provincial government’s $28-million investment.
Auto dealers throughout the Okanagan have shown strong support for the project, on both the capital and student support side.
A donation of $10,000 from the Kelowna Auto Dealers Association was one of the first donations which helped the campaign kickoff last fall; dealerships throughout the valley have collectively provided more than $600,000 to date.
Campaign ambassador Mike Roberts points out that all donations, large or small, have a big impact on students.
“Every dollar raised benefits students,” said Roberts.
“When you see the impact that a bursary has on a student—when you see the look of pride and motivation on his or her face—it is something that is difficult to put into words.”
In the past year, Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation have disbursed more than $133,000 to trades students in scholarships and bursaries to help make trades training accessible for students.
“It is very special seeing our community support students through this campaign. That support is absolutely crucial if we are going to reach our $7-million goal and help get these students into a world-class facility by next spring,” said Roberts.