VICTORIA, BC (Feb. 6, 2014) – The Construction Foundation of BC has received 89 applications from BC high schools hoping to qualify for funding to upgrade their skills training facilities through Project Shop Class, its inaugural fundraising effort. Schools are seeking a combined total of approximately $8.9 million.
“We are very impressed with the quality and professionalism of the applications, and the details provided by the schools which list what they need and why,” says Don Nishimura, Chairman of the Foundation. “It’s clear that a passion for skills training is alive and well in BC schools, and our industry is ready to support the Foundation’s effort to inspire students by helping to make sure their introduction to the trades is exciting and up-to-date. We will announce the schools who have qualified to participate later this month.”
Currently, 52 of 60 BC school districts offer shop classes in more than 260 schools, with 48 of those school districts offering Secondary School Apprenticeship (SSA) training. However, only about 1/32 BC high school students enter the trades out of high school. With a looming shortage of over 30,000 skilled workers, the BC construction industry is working to encourage more young people to enter the skilled trades.
The Construction Foundation of BC identified a need at the high school level – where, in many cases, shop facilities have not been upgraded in decades. Industry would like to help today’s shop classes to catch up and give shop students a more relevant training experience.
Schools requesting funding are in all regions of the province, from Haida Gwaii to Cranbrook, from Victoria to Fort Nelson. Some schools need less than $5000 to replace tools and materials, but others require significant renovations, replacement or repair of heavy-duty gear, or added space to accommodate student enrolment up to the needed capacity – with some requests for $100,000 or more.
“An environment that has appropriate tools and machinery is an important step towards guiding students to a higher level of trades training,” noted Chris Williams, Woodwork Teacher at Prince George Secondary School.
“Students who become frustrated while working in the shop can come away with the wrong impression of what it would be like to work in industry,” adds applicant Marc Daoust, an Industrial Education Teacher at Maple Ridge Secondary School. “Updated equipment will let students focus on improving their skills while learning what machinery is able to do for them.”
The Project Shop Class Advisory Group will announce the final list of qualifying schools at a fundraising dinner hosted by the BC Construction Association (BCCA) on February 20 at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel in Vancouver, co-sponsored by WorkSafe BC, the Homeowner Protection Office (a branch of BC Housing), the BC Safety Authority, and BC Building Trades. This dinner marks the launch of the fundraising campaign, which will use online tools to help raise funds from industry stakeholders across the province.
“We are honoured to launch fundraising for Project Shop Class,” says Manley McLachlan, President of the BC Construction Association. “Skills training is a major priority for our industry, and ensuring a strong start in high school is key.”
“With this sponsorship, WorkSafeBC aims to support a safe, healthy learning environment in students’ shop classes across BC and to foster safety throughout their working lives.”
The Construction Foundation of BC is a charitable organization established in 2012 by the British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA). Its goal is to support the advancement of BC’s construction sector through improvements to related education and research, and to contribute to charitable initiatives which are close to home for the industry’s organizations and employees.
Learn More about Project Shop Class at www.constructionfoundationbc.ca/shopclass.