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Trades training, trades waiting in Chilliwack

UFV Trades & Tech - Files
UFV Trades & Tech
— image credit: Files

Last month the B.C. government announced plans to increase support for trades and apprenticeship programs at both high school and post-secondary levels, aiming to fill an estimated one million jobs by 2022.

Meanwhile, UFV’s Trades and Technology Centre (TTC) is filled to capacity, with many accepted students sitting on waitlists for trades programs.

The longest waitlists are for the construction electrician and welding foundation programs, which stand at 102 and 89 students respectively.

For a student accepted into in a high-demand program, this can mean waiting a semester—or more—for a spot.

And by the time a spot opens up, that student may have moved on to something else—unable to supply students with training when they want it, B.C. loses out on skilled workers.

“Many of them will have applied last year for their spots,” says Rolf Arnold, director of faculty of applied and technical studies at UFV.

“When we are filling classes now, we will find that some of those people have changed their minds, gone elsewhere, or taken some other training in the meantime.”

“If the funding was available, we’d be adding classes immediately,” Arnold notes.

“But we are, as all other areas are, under budget restraints and budget cuts from the Ministry of Advanced Education.”

If students land on a waitlist, Arnold suggests looking into complementary programs offered at TTC, which can help lay a foundation of understanding when they do get into their program.

“An example would be electrical, which has a long waitlist, but we have an electronics program that  typically does not have a long waitlist,” Arnold explains. “There’s lots of overlap there, and certainly it’s not irrelevant information.”

He estimates, however, that less than five per cent of waitlisted students take this option.

Arnold notes overall enrolment numbers haven’t increased too much over time, although popularity has certainly shifted.

“There has been a shift in some of the areas, and I think a lot of that has to do with the economy and the opportunities to make big money,” he says. “The welding and the heavy duty mechanics, those are the ones where you can go up north and make the big dollars… That’s where we’ve seen the shift and the demand increase.”

John Martin, Liberal MLA for Chilliwack, says B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint will help relieve some of that pressure with an additional $6.6 million towards high-priority areas in trades—although he stresses these funds will be allocated to programs suggested by industry demand as well as student demand.

“We’re going to be consulting with industry, we’re going to be consulting with stakeholders across the spectrum and we’re going to be looking at … what types of skills, what types of training will we be needing to fill those jobs,” Martin says.

“We’re going to be able to [relieve] some of the waitlists in those very popular high-demand programs and ramp up the number of graduates . . .  in a handful of areas where we do see an increased need.”

“It’s going to be a data-driven process. We’re not cherry-picking certain fields over others.”

For now, it remains a mystery how, if at all, this additional trades funding will affect UFV trades students.

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PLEASE HOLD!

Apprenticeship waitlist numbers as of April 23, 2014

- Construction electrician

102 students on waitlist*

54 program spots available over the course of the 2014/15 academic year

- Welding foundation

89 students on waitlist*

40 program spots available Sept. 2014

- Heavy duty/commercial transport

49 students on waitlist

20 program spots available Sept. 2014

- Architectural drafting

40 students on waitlist*

20 program spots available Sept. 2014

- Automotive service technician

27 students on waitlist*

20 spots available Sept. 2014

- Hospitality event planning

19 students on waitlist

20 program spots available Sept. 2014

- Plumbing and piping

19 students on waitlist

18 program spots available Sept. 2014

- Professional cook

13 students on waitlist

20 program spots available Sept. 2014

- Aircraft structures

Nine students on waitlist

20 spots available Sept. 2014

 

*not including applications from dual credit high school students, which are estimated to be higher than previous years

 

 

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