KELOWNA – The Government of British Columbia is investing $72,000 to create 32 seats at Okanagan College so students can get hands-on experience in a variety of trades occupations that support the diverse, strong and growing economy of B.C.

The allocation is part of the $727,500 announced earlier today to create 326 Trades Discovery seats at 12 public colleges, universities and institutes. The funds support B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint that government launched one year ago today.

“Building the future of our province starts with more and more people finding rewarding careers,” says Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna. “These additional seats will connect more students with in-demand skills, putting themselves first in line for jobs.”

“With an estimated one million job openings by 2022, local students are excited for the many opportunities coming available to them,” says Steve Thomson, MLA for Kelowna-Mission. “We wish them well as they explore the trades and build a foundation for a great career.”

“These 32 seats represent 32 more people taking the first step toward a rewarding career in the trades,” says Norm Letnick, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country. “The Trades Discovery program allows them to explore a variety of exciting opportunities and find their fit in our local job market.”

Trades Discovery provides students experience in construction, mechanical, transportation and oil and gas sectors over 10-12 weeks. Following the program, students can choose to enrol in a trades foundation program or pursue an apprenticeship in a trade of their choice.

The provincial government launched B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint in April 2014 to re-engineer education and training for in-demand jobs. The Blueprint uses data to drive decisions and shift training and education to better match labour market needs and priorities.

Earlier this week, government announced $6.1 million for 1,429 additional critical trades seats in 14 public post-secondary institutions throughout the province to reduce wait times for students entering trades that are in demand by a range of industries. Okanagan College received $766,560 for 152 critical trades seats in 2015/16 and $928,000 for 203 critical trades seats as well as $171,428 for trades equipment in 2014/15. Also, a new $30-million trades training facility at Okanagan College is under construction.

B.C. expects one million job openings by 2022. More than 78% of jobs will require some form of post-secondary education, and 44% of jobs will be in skilled trades and technical occupations. Approximately 13% of the one million projected job openings are for in-demand trade occupations in B.C.