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A class of 13 Grade 10-12 students from School District 23 were the first to contribute to the project, honing their framing and other carpentry skills recently in the space, which is under construction at Kelowna Christian Academy School located on Hollywood Road South.
That class is the first of its kind in the province – an all-female gateway to trades opportunity that is modelled on the Industry Training Authority (ITA) Youth Explore Trades Sampler program for high school students. The 19-week program (a collaboration between the ITA, school district and the college) provides youth an experience in various trades to help students identify their passion before continuing on to an apprenticeship.
Mackenzie Pachal is one of the students working on the project.
“We get to learn a lot about using different tools and about the different trades. It’s much different than school. It’s cool to be working on something that someone else will be appreciating,” she notes.
“This project is a great opportunity for these students to get some hands-on training and apply their skills out in the community,” says Steve Moores, the College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “I expect they will take a great deal of pride in knowing their efforts are benefiting their fellow students. It’s a real win-win for everybody involved and our students and instructors jumped at the chance to be a part of it.”
“We’re very grateful to the Industry Training Authority and the school district for their support in helping us make this first all-female gateway program a reality – along with Tolko, Home Depot and several others who have provided support and materials. The school district approached us to get the ball rolling in an innovative way to engage an all-female cohort and we’re thrilled we were able to work collaboratively to make it happen.”
“Supporting women in trades is so important in building a sustainable and strong workforce in B.C.” says Shelley Gray, interim CEO, Industry Training Authority. “We’re so proud of the girls of School District 23 for trying their hands at skilled trades and contributing to their community and Okanagan College. Creating safe and welcoming environments for girls and women interested in exploring trades is a great way to get them started.”
Others from the College’s Trades and Apprenticeship department will also play a role in finishing off the project. Electrical, plumbing and carpentry/joinery students and instructors will rotate through in the coming days.
When completed (the College is aiming to have the project wrapped by the end of December) the space will boast locker rooms for both the men’s and women’s teams and a coach’s/meeting room.
The OC Coyotes will play their home openers at Immaculata Regional High School on Nov. 16. The games will mark their first official regular season play as part of the Pacific West (PACWEST) Conference.
“The OC Coyote men’s and women’s basketball programs are built on and dependent on local support and this is no exception with the entire project being constructed by OC Trades students,” explains Dino Gini, President of the Okanagan College Basketball Society.
“Supporting our community is our top priority because the community has supported us since our program’s inception. Working with the College Trades departments and their students is just another example of our program working with our future community leaders. We are looking forward to inviting the community in to join us to officially open the facility to the current and future players and coaches when the time comes.”