April 06, 2015 - 12:29 PM
KELOWNA - Prompted by the looming skills gap across the trades sector, a local construction company has thrown its support behind the $33-million project to expand and renovate the trades training complex at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.
Emil Anderson Construction has made a $50,000 donation to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign. The company’s donation has enabled the College to build and outfit a new classroom in the heavy mechanical trades shop, which integrates new technology and equipment into the learning space.
“We know there is a coming shortage of tradespeople, and we’re very proud to support the College’s efforts to train new apprentices so we can stay out in front of that skills gap,” says Mike Jacobs, President & CEO of Emil Anderson Construction.
“As a company, we need heavy-duty mechanics and other tradespeople, so we are sensitive to the need to encourage young people to enter the trades. Without them, how are we as a society going to build roads, bridges, buildings—all our key infrastructure?”
“The new trades training complex will provide our students with learning environments that are truly modern,” says Dr. Andrew Hay, Okanagan College’s Vice President of Education. “We are very grateful to Emil Anderson Construction, and to all our donors, for investing in our students’ educational experiences. It sends a powerful message to our students that local industry is behind them.”
When completed in spring of 2016, the new three-storey complex along KLO Road will be one of the largest, most sustainable trades training facilities in Western Canada, accommodating over 2,400 students per year. In addition to the new building, the College is currently renovating existing shops and classrooms, rejuvenating decades-old facilities to meet the complex’s overall goal of achieving LEED Platinum and Living Building Standards.
Upgrades to the heavy mechanical trades shop were completed in summer 2013, including the construction of a 1,858-square-metre outdoor training space, which is covered by a canopy housing one of the province’s largest arrays of photovoltaic solar panels. The new heavy-duty classroom features built-in heavy-duty equipment and technology, offering a blend of shop and classroom learning.
Emil Anderson Construction is a fourth generation family construction business based in Kelowna that specializes in highway construction, paving, design build projects, site development, land development and housing.
Jacobs notes that for many years he has witnessed students being steered away from trades training in favour of other post-secondary education, a trend which he sees as problematic given the provincial and federal government’s projections for a major skills gap in trades and technically trained workers over the next decade.
“We have supported many local projects and organizations—from the Mission Creek Greenway to the YMCA,” explains Jacobs. “And this project is another vital one for our community. We absolutely need to get young people into trades. The opportunities are huge for them right now with a wave of retirements coming among experienced tradespeople.”
The Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising 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. To date, over $3.6 million has been raised. 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 www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015