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New Delta campus promotes careers in heavy-duty trades 0

By David P. Ball, 24 hours Vancouver

Leigh Wall graduated last month from Vancouver Community College's Heavy-Duty/Commercial Transport Foundation program, and will likely attend courses at the new Motive Power Centre on Annacis Island. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)

Leigh Wall graduated last month from Vancouver Community College's Heavy-Duty/Commercial Transport Foundation program, and will likely attend courses at the new Motive Power Centre on Annacis Island. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)

I'm definitely trying to make a good impression and convince more women to try it out. — Leigh Wall, heavy-duty transport grad

“I haven't landed an apprenticeship yet,” mechanic Leigh Wall admits, “but heavy-duty commercial transport is huge right now. It's in really high demand and there's lots of money to be made.”

Two weeks ago, the Newfoundland native graduated from the heavy duty/commercial transport foundation program at Vancouver Community College. It was the latest career switch for the 33-year-old after earlier studying for post-secondary diplomas in legal administration and public relations.

“I love working on the big stuff,” she said. “I got tired of the grind, the whole office thing, sitting at a computer – I wanted something more tangible, to see the fruits of my labour, something hands-on.”

Students like Wall with aspirations for an industrial career will get a further boost in September when a new campus, a collaboration between VCC and the B.C. Institute of Technology, opens on Delta’s Annacis Island.

On Monday, the Advanced Education Ministry announced it would invest $4.5 million in the 142,000-square-foot Motive Power Centre.

“You turn around any corner in B.C. we have colleges and facilities all over the province. Each one is ready to deliver the next graduate to work in LNG (liquefied natural gas), construction, mining, oil and gas, and ship-building,” Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk told 24 hours,

“Transportation is a key to the economy ... heavy-duty mechanics tie to every single one of those industries and to all parts of the province.”

VCC and BCIT annually graduate 650 heavy-duty transport students combined. The new facility could allow that number to double, meeting some of Victoria’s hopes of creating jobs in energy, including LNG – but not unless more students meet that demand, Virk said.

“Sometimes a wonderful problem to have is to have more jobs than people,” he said. “We need to encourage many more young people to take the trades. Not enough are interested.”

Steve Perry, BCIT's motive power associate dean, said integrating industries into the curriculum is a key aspect of the new facility. It will increase the number of graduates who can find work, as well as ensuring instructors have the latest technologies.

“Getting this facility prepared for the fall is going to be a large project through the summer,” Perry said. “It's an exciting location for the facility because it's bordered by many municipalities and it's a very central area for students to get to ... and there's also a large concentration of industries on Annacis Island.”

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