Cody Plante was grooming ski hills in the Fraser Valley when he decided to carve a new career path; now, a bursary from the South Okanagan Chapter of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association is helping him and two other Okanagan College students build for their futures.
Plante and classmates Chelsea Lindley-Scott and Jeremy Miller, students in the Residential Construction at the College’s Penticton campus, each received the award valued at $1,000.
“It’s just awesome to have people in the industry backing me, wanting to support my goal of getting into construction,” says Plante. “It’s especially cool that the support comes from a group like CHBA South Okanagan, which has among its members leaders from so many builders and other businesses throughout the Valley.”
“Supporting students entering the construction industry is the perfect fit for our organization,” says Carol Sudchak, Executive Officer for the Canadian Home Builders' Association South Okanagan. “One of our cornerstones is to support the professionalism of our members, and it benefits us all to provide the next wave of tradespeople with opportunities to learn, grow and take pride in their achievements.”
For Plante, the immediate benefit is a boost to his budget for tools. But he is quick to point out that the long-term effect of receiving the bursary extends well beyond the financial lift.
“This support is literally helping my dreams come true,” Plante explains. “It’s already inspiring me to achieve excellence, to do the CHBA proud, and demonstrate that their investment in my future was a good one.”
Plante and his classmates are currently getting hands on experience towards that future. As part of a mentorship opportunity provided by Greyback Construction Ltd. in partnership with the College, the current residential construction class is assisting with the construction of a high-end home at the Skaha Hills development in Penticton.
The 26-week Residential Construction program provides students with the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge to seek employment as an apprentice carpenter in the construction industry.
Sudchak notes that the hands on training provided by the College will continue to be needed in this area, given an aging workforce across the trades sector.
“Shortage of skilled labour is an important issue and we would like to assist the students in getting into the field in any way we can,” adds Sudchak. “Okanagan College has wonderful trades programs and we hope that our bursary truly makes a difference for students as they begin their careers in the construction industry.”
According to the British Columbia Labour Market Outlook, of the one million job openings expected in BC by 2022, more than 160,000 directly related to trades and related occupations that require formal training at the college level.
The College is currently embarked on a $33-million renovation and expansion of its trades training complex in Kelowna to position itself to be able to meet the training needs of the province ahead of this demand. The Bright Horizons Building for Skills Fundraising Campaign was launched in October of last year to raise an additional $7 million ($5 million for capital construction costs and an additional $2 million for student and program support) to supplement the B.C. government’s $28-million investment.
More information about the campaign and opportunities to get involved, please visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.