Posted by Colin Heggie on Jan 21, 2020
This morning we met at Okanagan College’s Trades Building, opened in 2018.  Bob Clarke arranged a talk & tour with Rob Kjarsgaard, OC’s Program Administrator for Trades & Apprenticeships.  OC is BC’s 2nd largest trades trainer, after BCIT.  The Kelowna campus of OC recently received a $36m upgrade to their trades building, while Vernon, Penticton & Salmon Arm have new facilities to allow rotating intakes of various trades through multi-purpose shops.  The Vernon facility has a large classroom area, three shops & ancillary rooms.  High school students are invited to “Student for a Day” hands-on experiences, & there are several special programs, such as “Women in Trades.”  A wide variety of apprenticeship & foundation programs, leading to diplomas or Red Seal National Endorsements, include aircraft maintenance; automotive service, collision repair & refinishing; carpentry & joinery; culinary arts; electrical; heavy mechanics; metal fabricating & fitting; pastry arts; plumbing & pipe fitting; RV service; refrigeration & air conditioning; residential construction; sheet metal work; studio woodworking; & welding.  There are numerous options within most of these categories.  Rob claims an overall 97% employment rate among all graduates of trades training, most of whom alternate between classrooms & on the job experience, where they can be earning progressively better wages throughout their training.  He calculates a typical trades student can earn a good living through their four typical years of training, whilst a typical university student accumulates substantial debt.  Pictures show shops set up for plumbing & welding.