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“Deciding to go to the College and enrolling in the welding program just felt right for me and now that I’m at the end of this program I can say it was the right choice,” says Burton. “Welding is such a versatile trade and you can really do so much with it and work in a ton of different venues which makes me very excited for my future because the opportunities are endless.”
For Burton, today’s ceremony marks the completion of his C-Level Welding Foundation Certificate which he hopes will propel him into the industry and open the door to future training.
“Graduating has given me a huge sense of accomplishment and I can’t wait to hit the ground running in this industry and start laying down some roots in the region,” says Burton. “I am excited to see where I’ll end up in this career.”
Burton’s next step will be to accrue the 1,000 hours of industry experience required to earn his Level 1 apprenticeship, after which he plans to return to the College to obtain B-Level Certification.
“Tradespeople play a vital role in building and sustaining our communities and trades training has always been at the heart of what we do at Okanagan College,” says President Jim Hamilton. “We commend all of our 2018 trades graduates on their achievements.”
More than 700 apprentices and foundation trades students will have received credentials since January. About 100 of those students were expected to attend Thursday’s ceremony.
Trades Commencement is one of eight convocation and commencement ceremonies Okanagan College will host this year. By the end of June, the College will have sent more than 2,000 graduates into the world to become nurses, engineering technologists, business leaders, computer programmers, educators, tradespeople and more.
Okanagan College is the second-largest trades training institution in the province behind BCIT.
After a strong showing at the Enactus Canada Regional Competition earlier this spring, 27 Okanagan College business students are heading across the country to once again assert their place among Canada’s best. One of the new projects they’ll be showcasing on the national stage is already having an accelerated impact in local classrooms.
For fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student Jamie Park and her teammates, earning first-place at Regionals in Calgary in the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge for the Accelerate Youth project – one of Enactus OC’s newest initiatives – was a major confidence boost and a milestone in the project’s rapid development over the past year.
Accelerate Youth teaches practical life skills such as budgeting, banking, cooking and more to at-risk youth. Joining Park on the team are fellow business students Jessica Egyed, Jessica Overland and Marshall Kutyn.
The project began to take root when Christine Thygesen, an instructor and counselor at the Westside Learning Center, approached the College for an innovative solution and support to teach life skills to students in alternative schools.
“For students who have experienced difficulties in past academic endeavors, adolescence is often the time when they acknowledge their negative outlook on the future,” explains Thygesen. “My vision was to improve the mindset of these teens by creating a program that would support and accelerate them to their next level of potential through hands-on learning.”
Over a 10-week span made up of 20 sessions, Enactus OC teammates visited the Westside Learning Centre to work with students.
“We started with needs versus wants, something every teenager knows about,” explains Park. “After a few weeks the youth started to open up to us and come to realize the importance of financial and nutritional literacy. Once we had covered the basics, we started looking at credit, insurance and taxes.”
The students were soon buoyed by a partnership with a local non-profit organization, Start Fresh, which allowed them to add some hands-on culinary education for the students. Launched in 2016, Start Fresh serves up education on everything from kitchen skills to life skills in a wide variety of settings.
‘Working with Accelerate Youth has been a fantastic experience for our Chefs here at Start Fresh,” says Sarah Martin, Operations Manager at Start Fresh. “We were able to come in to the project, share our skills and knowledge with the students and have a lot of fun doing it. We’re always grateful to support and work with youth in a meaningful way.”
Accelerate Youth also received a $2,000 grant from the Central Okanagan Foundation for Youth and United Way Gennext, which provided the critical seed capital needed for its launch. So far, 25 youth have benefited from the program and the project partners are already looking at how it can be expanded to other regions and districts in future.
“It’s inspiring to see the collaboration between the Enactus team and the students who have built this incredible community learning environment,” says Enactus OC Faculty Advisor Dr. Kyleen Myrah. “The response from community partners who are offering their specialized expertise and financial support for this program has been outstanding. I am excited to see the future direction of Accelerate Youth.”
Enactus OC will be competing in three competitions at the National Exposition held May 14-16 in Toronto. Alongside Accelerate Youth, the entrepreneurial team will also highlight the Launch-a-Preneur and Start-up Weekend projects. The national team will present on all projects from the year. Alongside Myrah, three other Faculty Advisors – Dean Warner, Terry Kosowick and Scott Overland – will accompany and support the teams.
With local, national and global demand for Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (AME) soaring, Okanagan College is working with its industry partners to train the next generation of skilled technicians.
For area students that means significant career opportunities with companies such as KF Aerospace, one of the region’s largest employers (over the past four years, the company has hired every student to successfully complete the College’s AME Structures program). Among those alumni is 2014 grad Michelle Hanry.
“Getting hired straight after graduation and working for KF for the last three years has been an amazing experience,” explains Hanry. “I have learned a lot from the senior structural engineers. KF’s growth and involvement in numerous contracts that require a variety of maintenance experience allows new apprentices to ease into the work and grow their skills quickly.”
An open house on May 9 co-hosted by Okanagan College and KF Aerospace in Kelowna aims to open students’ eyes to the training and job opportunities in their flight path in both the College’s Structures (S) and Maintenance (M) programs.
“The industry demand is still so strong that even after a national search and hiring the entire class from the new November intake, we’re still looking for 30 more employees,” says Grant Stevens, Director of Human Resources for KF Aerospace. “KF has been on quite the expansion and in the last 10 years has built three new hangars and tripled the floor space and the number of aircrafts – staffing growth is our number one obstacle to expansion.”
Those looking to train for careers as aircraft maintenance engineers can choose from two offerings at the College – the Maintenance or M-License program, which covers everything from engines to electrical components in fixed wing aircraft and helicopters or the Structures (S-Licence) program, which covers the fabrication, assembly, installation, and repair of an aircraft’s structure.
The 62-week (approximately 15 months) M-Licence program is offered in partnership with Northern Lights College (NLC) in Dawson Creek, B.C. The first 48 weeks of training take place at Okanagan College Aerospace Campus in Vernon. The final 14 weeks of training take place at Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek.
The 37-week (approximately 9 months) S-Licence program operates out of the College’s Aerospace Campus in Kelowna. Students train steps away from KF Aerospace’s cutting-edge hangars and have opportunities to tour, meet and speak to KF’s experienced AME-S technicians and apprentices – many of whom are OC alumni.
“Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, both M and S streams, have always been some of the most sought-after workers in aviation,” says Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship at Okanagan College. “To help address the demand locally, the College opened an additional intake last November with support from KF Aerospace and the Industry Training Authority and we look forward to continuing to work together to address the demand.”
The open house starts at 6 p.m. on May 9 at OC’s Aerospace campus adjacent to KF Aerospace’s hangars at the Kelowna International Airport. It will provide prospective students with a chance to learn about both programs while also learning about job prospects and career paths in the aviation industry. Attendance is free and open to the public.
More information about the College’s AME programs and the upcoming open house, is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/ame.