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Building a strong foundation: Greyback Construction project gives students a chance to put their skills to work

Kayla Blanchard, a Residential Construction student at Okanagan College in Penticton, is pictured at the construction site in this contributed image.
Image Credit: Contributed
May 21, 2015 - 11:44 AM

PENTICTON - A unique job-shadow project is providing a group of students from Okanagan College’s Residential Construction program the chance to gain hands-on training as they build a high-end home in the South Okanagan.

The class of 11 students, under the guidance of instructor David Lovisa, is helping construct a home at the Skaha Hills development in Penticton. The project arose as a job-shadow opportunity through Greyback Construction Ltd., the company overseeing the development of the resort-residential project situated on the picturesque bench overlooking Skaha Lake on the Penticton Indian Band reserve.

“This is an incredible learning opportunity for these students,” says Lovisa. “They are working side-by-side with experienced tradespeople and so their work has to be just as precise as the men and women beside them with many more years of experience.”

“Greyback Construction is pleased to be able to support the training and apprenticeship of new tradespeople in the Okanagan,” says Shaun McCafferty, Superintendent for Greyback Construction. “Job-shadowing and mentorship opportunities like this provide students with opportunities for real-world training and we believe that is important.”

For student Kayla Blanchard, the project has helped her to develop confidence on the job site, as well as her carpentry skills.

“This opportunity to shadow with Greyback has been amazing,” says Blanchard. “I’ve learned so much while working on this project. I’m really proud of myself and what I’ve accomplished.”

Blanchard credits her two-year-old son as her inspiration for going back to school to pursue a new career as a carpenter. She encourages other women to consider the trades as a career path.

“If you’ve ever wanted to get into a trade, now is a great time,” says Blanchard. “Go for it. Believe in yourself. I’ve learned that there is nothing I can’t accomplish.”
Her classmate Drake Sylvestre hopes to pursue a career in residential construction in the Okanagan; he acknowledged the value of hands-on training offered by the project with Greyback.

“I’d like to thank Greyback for accepting Okanagan College students on site and allowing us to shadow them and build a house,” he says. “Until you’ve done it, you don’t know how great it feels to actually build somebody’s home and see that come together.”

The 26-week Residential Construction program provides students with the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge to seek employment as an apprentice carpenter in the construction industry. As Lovisa notes, the focus is on developing practical skills for the construction workplace.

“Having a chance to contribute to a project like this, and to learn by doing, is absolutely invaluable for students at this stage of their training,” explains Lovisa.

The home the class is helping to build is expected to be finished in early June.

Okanagan College is the second largest trades training institution in the province. The College is currently embarked on a $33-million renovation and expansion of its trades training complex in Kelowna. The Bright Horizons Building for Skills Fundraising Campaign was launched in October of last year to raise an additional $7 million for capital construction costs to supplement the B.C. government’s $28-million investment.

The campaign has raised over $3.7 million to date. As part of the $7-million goal, the campaign team is aiming to secure $2 million for programming and student support, which will benefit students through scholarships and bursaries, access and mentorship opportunities, and other support during their training. For more information about the campaign and opportunities to get involved, please visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign

More information about the Residential Construction program and other Okanagan College trades foundation and apprenticeship programs is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/trades.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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