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Sentes donation continues regional auto dealers’ strong support of trades expansion at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

One of the valley’s most prominent automotive dealers has come forward with a major donation towards the renovation and expansion of Okanagan College’s Trades Training Complex, and the support goes far beyond dollars and cents.OC Trades Launch

Sentes Automotive has pledged $50,000 toward the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign to support a student study space in the new trades tower currently under construction along KLO Road in Kelowna.

“Our company recognizes the impact that new trades students and apprentices have, not only on our business, but on the industry as a whole throughout the Okanagan,” says Adam Rich, General Manager of Sentes. “We see the skills and the energy these young people bring to the table, and we’re proud to support their training.

“We feel it’s very important to give back in a way that can help transform people’s lives. We live and operate in the valley, so it’s important to us to support local causes, and obviously education is one of the most impactful. Formal training is so vital for people looking to be successful in this sector, given how quickly the technologies advance,” adds Rich.

The new complex will allow the College to train over 2,400 foundation students and apprentices every year, which will help further establish this region as a hub for trades training, says Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. 

“We are very grateful to local industry leaders like Sentes Automotive who are helping us build for the future, and personally to Adam Rich for his efforts as a champion for the campaign out in the community," said Hamilton.

The Sentes Automotive donation has special meaning for Rich, who is volunteering his time as Automotive Sector Chair for the campaign. Rich notes that he saw the necessity to help raise awareness and ensure that the community understands the importance of trades training, given the demand in the Okanagan.

“It is great forethought on the College’s part to make this expansion now, with all the projections pointing to a shortage in skilled labour over the next decade. This new complex is a great way to stay out in front of that.”

Sentes Automotive operates six dealerships from Vernon to Penticton and is one of the largest automotive industry employers in the region with 265 employees. 

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the $33-million complex renovation and expansion project launched in October 2014. The goal of the campaign is to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support. The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project.

Rich says the buzz around the campaign has been very positive since it was announced, especially among auto dealers. The Kelowna Auto Dealers Association’s pledge of $10,000 was one of the early donations that helped to kick off the campaign and dealerships throughout the valley have collectively provided over $600,000 to date.

“Our group has experienced times when technicians were hard to find; sometimes the demand is such that they can’t be trained fast enough—so it’s wonderful that the College is being mindful of this and is expanding to meet the need. It can only mean more opportunities for students, which is great.”

Okanagan College is currently the second largest trades training institution in B.C. When completed in spring of 2016, the new complex will be one of the largest, most sustainable trades training facilities in Western Canada. To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.