TRU was granted $160,000 as part of a $3 million investment from the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training for new trades and tech training equipment. 19 public post-secondary institutions were allocated funding to update their trades and tech equipment, with the materials expected to be in place by 2019. Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark added a few remarks on the investment.
“This funding is an opportunity for public post-secondary institutions like Thompson Rivers University to replace obsolete equipment and buy new technology,” she said. “Hands-on learning on industry-standard equipment is so important in the trades and tech industries and we’re giving students the tools they need to succeed and be part of building a strong, sustainable and innovative B.C. economy.”
The funding was announced during the Apprenticeship Recognition Week in British Columbia, which took place from Nov. 4 to 10. The $3 million in equipment funding is in addition to the $5.4 million provided to 15 post-secondary institutions for trades and technology equipment last year. Baldev Pooni, Dean of Trades and Technology, is very grateful for the grant.
“I’m very pleased to receive this opportunity for new equipment in the trades area,” he said. “Our programs utilize a lot of equipment. In some cases, the programs are 60 to 70 percent hands-on and we are preparing people for jobs in industry, so having the opportunity to use current equipment is a requirement.”
“We have about $15 to 20 million worth of equipment, and it does need to be renewed, either the technology is too old, or some of the equipment might be getting worn, for safety reasons they do need to be replaced. I’m pleased that there is a sum of money available to upgrade some of the equipment, I always welcome more,” Pooni added.
Some of the notable technological purchases made by post-secondary institutions last year included a used hybrid vehicle for automotive programs, new construction saws, iPads, 3D printers and new servers, as well as wind and solar energy training equipment. Pooni is still waiting on the departments’ requests for what should be deemed a priority.
“I’ve asked the faculty to gather and give me a list of high priority items and these items are based on safety concerns because the equipment is worn or things that can’t be repaired, along with some of the newer technologies,” he said. “I leave that to the departments to work out and I don’t have the list right now, but it’s being compiled.”
Given the high demand for trades and technology workers in the province and country, it’s estimated that the B.C. economy will have 82,300 job openings in technology and 70,900 in trades by 2028. Pooni affirms this funding will help attract more trades and tech students, however, it’s not solely thanks to one piece of equipment.
“It will help to do that because we can look at key areas of our programming and strengthen those areas; however, students come to us not because we have a particular fancy truck or something,” he said. “They come to us knowing that they are going to be trained on the most current equipment, not looking for a specific piece of it.”