Okanagan College looking at bringing more trades programs to Revelstoke

Okanagan College may launch three new trades training programs in Revelstoke, if there is sufficient interest in town for the programs.

Lack of work in town means you may have to go elsewhere to find a job

Okanagan College may launch three new trades training programs in Revelstoke, if there is sufficient interest in town for the programs.

“We’ve had ongoing requests from the community to offer trades programs up there,” said Randy Werger, the associate dean of trades and apprenticeships for Okanagan College. “The challenge we run into is getting enough students to come in because it’s a small community.”

The programs the college is looking at are construction assistant, electrical pre-apprenticeship and plumbing pre-apprenticeship. The college is hosting a information session on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. to gauge the interest in the program in Revelstoke.

Werger said demand for workers in those three fields are high across the Okanagan, particularly if the construction industry continues to turn around.

“It won’t be long before we see those shortages we saw three, four years ago,” he said. “That’s why we’re trying to be a little more pro-active, get out before the crunch is there and give people the opportunity to get trained so they can maximize when the work force is tight.”

Skilled trade workers are not in as high demand in Revelstoke, according to several people working in the industry. Like many jobs in Revelstoke, there’s no shortage of people looking for work so they can enjoy the lifestyle offered here.

“I get a lot of calls, a lot of resumes from people wanting to move to town because they like skiing but they don’t want to move here if they don’t have any work,” said Rick Kermack, who runs Canyon Industrial Electrical. “It’s no problem finding workers. Right now there’s probably more workers than there is work in town.”

Rod Battersby of Battersby Plumbing echoed a similar sentiment in his field.

Mike Hoffman, who managed the construction of the new Best Western Hotel, said he had no trouble finding workers for the project but for a lot of them there was a lack of work in town in order to stay around once the hotel was finished.

“There’s a layer of really honest, talented small business owners who have a lot to offer,” he said. “They could be training good, young people because there’s good young people there but I don’t think they’ll be able to hang onto them and train them properly if there’s not the projects to do it on.”

Of course, Okanagan College doesn’t just train people to work in Revelstoke, it looks at the demands of the entire region, from Osoyoos to Revelstoke. Werger said there’s good demand for electricians, plumbers and welders across the region.

As well, a study released in June by the Construction Sector Council predicts there will be a shortage of 320,000 workers in the construction industry across Canada within the next decade.

Last year, Okanagan College ran the residential construction program in Revelstoke. The students built the Revelstoke Community Housing Society duplex on Oscar Street.

In order to make the programs viable Kermack said at least 12 students would have to register for each one.