Recent History – 1999
July 7, 1999, By Kelly Henschel, Daily News Staff
Trained technicians to service farm machinery are in drastic need, says Ken Haverland, owner of Kenver Equipment.
“It takes a lot of training in order to repair and keep going the machinery the farmers are using today,” says the farm machinery dealer.
Access to training is difficult for workers in the farm mechanics trade, as apprentices have to travel to Prince George for two months each year to complete specific courses, he says. However, that could all be changing in the next year, says Pat O’Reilly, director of instruction with School District 59.
“Any of the training we can do locally improves our community and improves the economy as opposed to sending people out to do training,” he says, which is the goal of the proposed Career Technical Centre, to be operated by the British Columbia Institute of Technology. While the location is yet to be determined, the centre would be a joint project with the school district, the city of Dawson Creek, and various industry partners.
BCIT already runs the highly successful automotive technician training program out of South Peace Secondary School and are now looking to expand, adding auto collision and refinishing and farm machinery mechanics.
“The programs would be taught just the same as they would be if the students were attending BCIT in Burnaby,” says O’Reilly.
“This will just be an extension of what we’re doing already,” adds Gary Remenyk, automotive instructor for the BCIT program at South Peace.
“BCIT has a provincial mandate to go into an area where there is a need to offer training programs,” he says, which applies to this area as currently there is no auto collision or farm mechanics program in the Peace River region.
Offering local training courses is instrumental in attracting workers into a trade industry such as auto collision repair, says ICBC assistant vice-president of the north central region Dale Bumstead. As well as attracting recent graduates, local training would benefit workers already in the industry, he says.
“It will also be able to offer to existing workers in the autobody repair business the opportunity to upgrade some of the courses and skills that they have,” he says.
“We need to have qualified and certified people working on the vehicles for our customers to make sure they’re repaired properly.”
The proponents of the centre hope to draw students from the Alberta Peace as well.
“The idea is we might even have people from other regions coming to do their training here,” says O’Reilly.
While many of the details about the program still have to be ironed out, O’Reilly remains optimistic that the auto collision repair course could start as early as February, 2000 and the farm equipment mechanics course in Sept., 2000.