Okanagan College helps fill Penticton’s coming need for construction workers - InfoNews

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Okanagan College helps fill Penticton’s coming need for construction workers

October 31, 2013 - 3:24 PM

Last week’s announcement of a major resort-style housing development in Skaha Hills is welcome news for the regional economy and highlights the need for more construction professionals.

Greyback Developments Ltd. and the Penticton Indian Band Development Corporation announced the project, which will be located on a 550-acre site on the shores of Skaha Lake west of the Penticton. Groundbreaking is expected to take place in November, with sales to proceed in March of 2014.

The $250-million development consists of seven phases featuring approximately 600 homes, a golf course and winery. Additional spin-off benefits could include infrastructure and commercial building.

Penticton Indian Band has estimated that the project could generate up to 1,500 jobs. Skilled workers, particularly those with experience in residential construction and carpentry will factor prominently in the pool of workers required.

“There has been a lot of focus on the need for carpenters in our region and this development is another example of the opportunities that exist for good jobs close to home,” explained Alf Leimert, Chair of Construction Trades at Okanagan College.

Leimert says the College’s Residential Construction Program is a good place to start for anyone looking to capitalize on the opportunities. The program provides students with the experience needed to help fill the positions. In fact, unique to this program, students actually construct an entire wood frame building, from the foundation to lock up stage.

“Graduates will be able to set footings and foundations, build floors, walls and roofs, install doors and windows. Depending on the project and the class, students may also complete the exterior and interior finishing and trim,” says program administrator Elizabeth Grosch.

“Although it's called Residential Construction, this program gives people carpentry skills that they could use for other parts of the construction industry as well. Carpenters build bridges and high-rises, dams and other infrastructure, and are in high demand throughout B.C.,” says Leimert.

Upon successful completion of the 30-week program, students will have their Level 1 technical training credit and 450 work-based hours toward their carpentry apprenticeship. Most important, they’ll have a solid foundation in residential construction and can start their career in the industry.

“Of all the trades, carpenters are most involved in projects because they are there from the very beginning to the very end,” says Charles Cullen of Team Construction and past president of Canadian Homebuilders’ Association of the Central Okanagan.

“As a result, carpenters tend to move into management roles, such as site supervisors, foreman and project managers, because they have a sense of all the different components of the job,” says Cullen.

The next intake for Residential Construction in Penticton begins Feb. 2, 2014. Applications are being accepted until Nov. 22.

Call Elizabeth Grosch at 250-492-4305, ext. 3309 for more information. To register, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/apply.

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