Access to applied and technical training is improving at the University of the Fraser Valley.
A $6.5 million project was announced this week and will expand learning opportunities for students in heavy mechanical and farm-technology. The university will pay $1 million toward the costs, and the province is paying the remainder.
The project will include a 24,000-square-feet teaching and shop space for their heavy-mechanical and farm-technology programs, in order to meet the growing demands for trades in the community. It will be located at the Canada Education Park in Chilliwack and will feature a large shop space, classrooms and offices. Part of the funding will also support the purchase of trades equipment such as an overhead crane.
Jamie McLellan, a heavy mechanical trade foundation student at UFV said the addition will benefit students.
“This funding means we’ll be working on additional machinery that we’ll see in the real world — so our first day on the job is not really our first day,” McLellan said. “This helps us with our training and takes us one step closer to making our dreams, for ourselves and our families, one step closer to reality.”
The president of UFV, Mark Evered, also expressed excitement about the project.
“On behalf of all of us at UFV, I thank the B.C. government for this funding to expand the applied and technical training that is so vital to the success of our graduates and the industries these professionals will serve,” he said. “It is a great investment in the economic development of our province, and we are pleased to be able to do our part.”
Laurie Throness, MLA for Chilliwack, spoke on behalf of Andrew Wilkinson, Minister of Advanced Education.
“The announcement today by our government of $5.5 million towards a new heavy-mechanical and farm-technology centre at UFV supports the local economy by providing skilled graduates who will work directly with industry right here in the Fraser Valley,” he said. John Martin, MLA for Chilliwack, added that the addition will help students complete their entire studies and apprenticeships in one location.
The Province says nearly one million job openings are expected in B.C. over the next decade, and eight out of 10 of these openings will require post-secondary education. In-demand occupations requiring post-secondary education or training range from professional to management to trades.
The announcement includes information about past funding, noting that more then $18.6 million in capital funding from the Province has already been directed and committed towards UFV since 2012-13. Projects include renovations to a variety of buildings in Abbotsford and Chilliwack, including $1 million for new facilities to house the Agriculture Centre of Excellence at the Canada Education Park at UFV.
For employers like Gerald Tocher, from First Truck Centre, it’s a good step toward building opportunities for tradespeople locally.
“This expansion provides additional room for equipment and further opportunities for young people to take foundation programs and to move into full apprenticeship programs,” he said. “With a full heavy-duty mechanical-trade apprenticeship program available here in Chilliwack, there will be greater flexibility for students in this area and from around the province to get into the classes they need, when they are needed.”