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Northside donation keeps Okanagan College trades campaign on upward arc

Steve McKay, President of Northside Industries and John Haller of the Okanagan College Foundation.
Image Credit: Contributed
June 14, 2015 - 11:13 AM

Training the next wave of welders will be crucial for the local manufacturing industry, says one Okanagan College donor who has stepped up to support the College’s new trades training complex.

Northside Industries, a steel manufacturing company based in West Kelowna, has donated $30,000 to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills Campaign. The donation will support the construction of three new welding booths in the $33-million complex currently under renovation and expansion along KLO Road.

“Having a strong trades training facility here in the Okanagan is so important for our industry, which relies heavily on the welding trades,” says Steve McKay, President of Northside Industries. “We’re very proud to support Okanagan College and its students, and we’re excited about what this new complex will mean for our region.”

“The new trades training complex will help to further establish our region as a hub for trades training in B.C.,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “With expanded space, leading edge equipment, and new programming opportunities, there will be an immediate benefit to students and a long-term economic benefit to our surrounding communities.

“We are very grateful to Northside Industries—and all our industry partners—for supporting our campuses and working closely with us as we build for the next 50 years.”

Northside has been in operation for more than 45 years. The company provides manufacturing services to a variety of sectors including oil and gas, forestry, heavy duty transport, and military. And with welding playing a key role in many of these services, McKay notes that Northside often looks to Okanagan College’s welding program for new apprentices.

“It’s great that we have manufacturing in the valley and a college that can support it,” says McKay. “Okanagan College does a tremendous job of preparing graduates for industry, and it works especially well for companies like ours to have a strong pool of talent to draw from locally.”

Northside’s support of the College goes beyond dollars and cents. They are also an active member of the Program Advisory Committee (PAC) for the welding program—a group of organizations and individuals that provides the College’s Trades department with insight into the latest industry trends and training needs.

“We are constantly consulting with industry partners across various sectors,” says Steve Moores, Okanagan College Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “This allows us to stay current, keep our programs relevant to the needs of employers, and ensure that students are getting the skills and training that makes them employable.”

According to Moores, recent feedback from the Welding program PAC indicated that there remains demand for welders in other sectors despite the slowdown in the Alberta oil patch.

“It is very helpful for us to be able to get feedback from industry to identify which segments are busy, so we can advise our graduates where apprentices are needed,” says Moores.

Construction is currently underway on the new trades training complex; the building is expected to open in spring of 2016. When the roughly 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion project is complete, the complex will accommodate 2,400 students per year.

The $7-million fundraising campaign for the $33-million complex launched in October 2014. The College is aiming to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support to top up the provincial government’s commitment of $28 million for the project.

Program and student support includes entrance awards and other support intended to make trades training accessible for a diverse array of students.

More information about how to support the capital project and student awards, and how to donate equipment is available at

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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