Nick Green, left, and Nick LeBrun, Vancouver Island University trades students, show Michelle Stilwell, Parksville-Qualicum MLA, the intricacies of an air-conditioning simulator board Wednesday. Stilwell and Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson were on hand to announce $262,000 in money for trades training spots.

Nick Green, left, and Nick LeBrun, Vancouver Island University trades students, show Michelle Stilwell, Parksville-Qualicum MLA, the intricacies of an air-conditioning simulator board Wednesday. Stilwell and Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson were on hand to announce $262,000 in money for trades training spots.

VIU trades get financial boost

NANAIMO – Provincial government gives university $262,000 for 96 new seats in training programs.

Shorter wait times for trades students at Vancouver Island University are expected with the announcement of $262,000 in funding from the B.C. government.

Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson and Michelle Stilwell, Parksville-Qualicum MLA, made the announcement at the Nanaimo campus Wednesday morning. The money will provide 96 in-demand trades training spots, including 64 seats for electrical, 16 for heavy-duty equipment technicians and 16 power engineering.

Rick Heikkila, university electrical program chairman, said in terms of electrical trades, the university sees a lot of apprentice students at various levels in a “bottleneck of wait-lists,” and the money will help get students through the system in a timely manner.

“In our higher-level – third, fourth year – we have wait-lists in the magnitude of 50 to 75 names on the wait-list and we only take 16 to a class, so that’s three or four classes worth of, what I would term as bottleneck,” said Heikkila.

Glynis Steen, dean of trades and applied technology, and Heikkila said students having to wait more than a year in some instances.

Heikkila estimated the money could cut wait times in half for the electrical programs.

Nick Lawrence, a Level 2 heavy-duty mechanic student, said he was wait-listed for some second-level courses. Shorter wait-lists are good, he said.

“As long as they can work it out so that guys don’t fall behind really and as long as [people] can go to school once a year and the wait-lists aren’t too bad,” said Lawrence.

Steen said the seats will be spaced out until next March.

“It’s beneficial for VIU because we’re able to put on more programs, offer more educational classes, but it’s beneficial to the students overall as well and for me, it’s really about the students being able to get through their program in a timely manner, to be able to get back out to work and to fully finish their trade,” said Steen.

Nanaimo News Bulletin

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