It’s all in the family: father-daughter duo reflects on changing industry
As an RV Service Technician instructor at Okanagan College, Victor Flint welcomes hundreds of new faces to the classroom but none so familiar as his own daughter, Sharla, who is proudly following in his footsteps to become a Red Seal RV Technician in the Okanagan.
Sharla Flint has recently completed her Recreation Vehicle Service Technician Foundation program at the College and is currently doing her apprenticeship at Voyager RV Centre in Kelowna, B.C. Sharla and Victor – who as an instructor and business owner of Family First Mobile RV Services – have both had firsthand experience in an industry that is experiencing unprecedented levels of demand.
“The pandemic has had some interesting impacts in the RV world and even with dealerships paying higher wages and offering more competitive employment benefits, they still can’t meet the demand the entire nation is feeling right now for RV technicians,” explains Victor. “In fact, most RV dealerships can barely even keep RVs for sale in stock, there is a noticeable shortage.”
While the industry has been steadily growing year after year, the pandemic-related provincial and national travel restrictions has unveiled RVing as both a hobby and vacation of choice.
“The demand for RVs as a vacation option is a huge trend,” says Sharla. “While it seems the provincial restrictions are starting to open up, people are still not travelling to their normal destinations and are in desperate need of a well-deserved vacation – RVing is a no-brainer.”
With the economic impacts from the pandemic and the increasingly rising real estate market in the Okanagan – where bidding wars and sales well above list price are frequent – the local RV industry has noted an upward shift in people choosing to live in an RV unit as their primary residence.
“With the economy and the real estate market in Kelowna we’re noticing people choosing to use RVs in different ways, not just as a vacation tool, but as a permanent or semi-permanent residence,” says Victor.
“I come across a lot of people who live full-time in their RVs and I have to say, we’re quite privileged to work on their homes,” says Sharla. “I’ve heard of young couples living in their RV to save up for a down payment on a house and I see a lot of retirees moving to the RV life as well.”
The demand for RVs as a vacation outlet and as a primary residence is not the only trend Victor and Sharla have noted either.
“Over the last five years teaching, I’ve noticed a steady increase of females in the classroom and the workforce,” says Victor. “I think that is what makes this trade one of the most unique trades out there.”
“As a female in this industry I can honestly say that I don’t get treated any differently and it has been very accepting, very fair and very welcoming,” says Sharla.
Victor is preparing for another student intake in the fall for the RV Service Technician Apprenticeship program for which he will welcome Sharla and several other females into the program.
“As an RV Tech instructor and RV service business owner, I get a really unique look at the talent coming into the programs and what is coming up next for the industry,” explains Victor. “I’ve always considered RV Service Technician as an important and in-demand career and the current landscape of the industry only supports that claim.”
Why did Sharla choose the RV Technician program? The variety.
“The RV program has so many different trades all wrapped into one, the versatility of this career is amazing and you’re never doing the same thing twice,” she says. “Once you complete your Red Seal, you can basically go anywhere in Canada and have a job tomorrow.”
Okanagan College offers the only entry-level Recreation Vehicle Service Technician program in Canada.
The next RV Service Technician program starts September 2021. For more information, program details and to apply for the program, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/rv.
Tags: Trades, Inside OC
April 27, 2021
Q: What is your education and background? A: I was born and raised in Calgary, AB. I have a BA in English (Creative Writing) and a BFA in Visual Art (Photography) from the University of Calgary, as well as an MA in English (Creative Writing) from the University of New Brunswick. I’ve been teaching in the OC English department since 2011. Q: What is your area of interest? A: I like to juggle a few disciplines in both the literary and visual arts. I teach courses in composition, Engl...Read more...
April 27, 2021
Q: What is your education and background? A: I have a Bachelor of Commerce and a Master's of Business Administration from Queen’s University. Q: What is your area of interest? A: Prior to joining Okanagan College, I consulted for major corporations such as Telus, TD and General Motors — but my true passion is entrepreneurship. I have been involved with many new ventures as an operator, investor and advisor. For example, I joined a software start up that grew from $0 in sales to ov...Read more...
April 22, 2021
As the world’s leaders gather on Earth Day 2021 to discuss steps to battle climate change, Okanagan College is pointing to recent statistics that demonstrate how far its energy savings efforts are advancing B.C.’s sustainability agenda. Calculations completed this week show that OC has reduced its total overall greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 44 per cent since 2007 – this in the face of an overall growth in space of 44 per cent in the same period. The calculations show that OC has managed to decrease its per-square-metre emissions by more...Read more...
April 12, 2021
For 18 years, the Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) has honoured OC graduates whose extraordinary contributions have positively impacted those close to home and around the world. In a year like no other and for the first time in the awards’ history, the OCAA is celebrating multiple recipients of this prestigious award: essential workers. “This year we decided to do things a little differently and honour all alumni who have been working hard in our community to keep us all safe,” says OCAA Vice President Nick Melemenis. “This pandem...Read more...