Highstreet champions careers in Trades with $1-million gift to Okanagan College to benefit students

By College Relations | February 28, 2024

Christina Wilson, Highstreet President, presents million dollar cheque to Neil Fassina, Okanagan College President.
The Highstreet team made the gift announcement to Okanagan College students and staff members.

Are you considering post-secondary? Kelowna-based real estate and development company, Highstreet, wants you to know that pursuing a skilled trade can lead to a rewarding career, full of growth, success and leadership opportunities.

It is this message and a desire to support students that has motivated Highstreet to donate an astounding $1 million dollars to Okanagan College’s Trades and Apprenticeship programs.

Their gift will focus on providing financial support to students starting an entry-level trades program. Thirteen annual bursaries of $6,500 will cover the full tuition costs with room for additional student expenses, such as textbooks or tools. “Full ride” bursaries are rare for an OC Trades program — and Highstreet hopes it will incentivize more students to explore the potential of an in-demand trades career.

“This is about giving back to an industry we love and encouraging high school students and young people to see a trades education as just as valuable as a university program,” says Scott Butler, Highstreet CEO. 

According to Butler, many people enter trades in their 30s after exploring different careers. The team at Highstreet wants to change that by making more people aware that trades can be a first-choice career — and the time is now. 

Butler adds it’s an exciting time to be in the trades industry, which he describes as dynamic and evolving. At Highstreet, Butler says the company is building carbon-free apartments and condos that people love. The team is also passionate about changing the perceptions of what it means to work in trades. For example, they’ve made the shift to a Monday to Friday schedule with overtime being an exception. Safety, cleanliness, organization, efficiency, and professionalism are all part of Highstreet’s vision to create the happiest work sites in Canada.

“The trades can be an amazing career path,” affirms Highstreet President, Christina Wilson.  “There are so many different avenues you can take — it could be in a leadership role, project management, or even owning your own business. There are so many opportunities.”

Wilson experienced this first-hand. She started at Highstreet nearly 10 years ago as a development coordinator.

“With a mindset of working hard and learning from others the sky is the limit,” says Wilson.   

For women considering a trade, Wilson has more encouragement. “You can do it. There is no barrier if you don’t make it one.”

Highstreet’s generous donation will also support unique learning opportunities for children and youth to explore trades.

Highstreet is a gold sponsor of OC’s inaugural Jill of All Trades event, a day-long workshop on May 15, for young women in Grades 9-12 that will offer hands-on learning in construction, automotive and manufacturing trades sectors. 

Also benefiting from Highstreet’s donation will be the annual Trades camps that are part of CampOC each summer. These week-long day camps introduce students in grades 4-6 and 7-9 to areas including carpentry, metalworks, electronics, culinary arts and more. 

“It’s a proud moment to be a part of a company that values investing in community as strongly as Highstreet,” says Tony Kudryk, Highstreet’s vice-president of construction.

It is expected that the demand for qualified skilled trades professionals will continue for the coming years, and Kudryk says that means their gift is an investment in the region’s future.

Okanagan College President Dr. Neil Fassina says its thanks to extraordinary support from businesses like Highstreet that the College can deliver its mission to provide the skilled professionals needed to strengthen our region and beyond.

“We want to acknowledge how much of an impact Highstreet is making with this inspiring gift,” says Fassina. “Not only are they removing barriers for OC students, but they are championing the skilled trades and recognizing how these professions contribute in our communities. It is extremely affirming for our students to see a local business make an investment in trades as a career choice. We are beyond grateful to their vision and generosity.” 

Future students can apply and learn more by visiting: https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/trades-and-apprenticeship

Tags: OC Foundation



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