A huge new mobile training unit has been introduced in the northwest, capable of bringing skills training anywhere a semi-trailer truck can drive, according to instructors who were on hand at Northwest Community College today for the grand unveiling.
Officials from Northwest Community College said the investment will enable people in remote areas to access training closer to their families and offer an opportunity for First Nations who may face obstacles because of their distance from central towns.
And for the province of B.C. as a whole, the government says the trailer is part of a larger program to prepare for a shortfall of labour expected in coming years.
“We’re expecting one million job openings in the next seven years in British Columbia, about two-thirds of that will be due to retirements,” said Minister of Advanced Education Andrew Wilkinson who attended the unveiling.
“About 15 per cent of that one million will be in trades. That’s 150,000 trades people we are looking for in the next seven years.”
The training trailer expands electronically into a 1,000 square foot room designed to help educate about 100 people a year, and possibly more depending on which programs it is used for. The various trades it is designed to accommodate include carpentry, piping, welding, plumbing, hair styling and electrical.
The provincial government’s contribution to the trades training trailer is $598,500 of the total investment $2.7 million for the trailer and the programming to run it, while the trailer itself is worth about $1 million.
A planned liquified natural gas industry was also a big impetus behind the major investment, with LNG Canada contributing $200,000 and pipeline company TransCanada contributing $75,000.
“Before we make a final investment decision on this project you will see more than a million dollars just in training,” said Susannah Pierce, director of external affairs for LNG Canada, one of several companies still waiting to finalize plans for liquified natural gas plants in Kitimat.
Rebecca McElhoes, manager of community relations for TransCanada’s two natural gas pipelines planned for the region, one that would feed the LNG Canada project, said that “Our proposed BC projects would require thousands of skilled workers for the construction phase, if we reach a final investment decision.”
The new trades training trailer has a metal interior with shiny anti-slip flooring. Inside is a satellite video conferencing module and power system that can run on an internal diesel generator.
While it is capable of going to remote communities, it will also be used in larger centres such as Kitimat, said NWCC director of communications Sarah Zimmerman.
Zimmerman added that programming provided by the Industrial Training Authority (ITA) represents about $300,000 of the total investment, and that another major donor who contributed will be named soon.