Deliver technical training through flexible scheduling and use of innovative tools to attract apprentices and encourage program completion.
• During the first two levels of the Recreation Vehicle Service Technician apprenticeship program at Okanagan College, safety and other generic topics are delivered via online training, with a practical portion done on-site at the College. For the first year, the format is three weeks online and five weeks onsite, and the second year is two weeks online and six weeks on-site. In the third year, the format is eight weeks on-site, with no online component. In the initial delivery of an online format, the College had included online instruction in all three years; however, they found that there was a drop in the IP pass rates because online training did not work well in the third year due to an increased technical focus. The issue was corrected by removing the online portion and using only on-site instruction for the third year, and the IP pass rates have returned to their previous levels.
• Okanagan College developed a library for Electrical Foundation and apprentice students with videos that demonstrate how to use tools, bend conduit, etc. The series focuses on all practical aspects of the Electrical trade. Students can use the videos in their own time to enhance their learning, which has led to improved student success and learning retention.
• Okanagan College uses Moodle as a companion course site for apprentices in face-to-face programs, providing them with practice exams and course materials. Although this requires some time for the apprentices to understand the practical assessments and for instructors to complete the assessments, instructors feel that the tools have helped apprentices succeed.
• Okanagan College was the first school in western Canada to acquire a virtual reality arc welding simulator. The VRTEX360, made by the Lincoln Electric Company, reduces the amount of material used to train Welders.
• Thompson Rivers University accepted a donation of $373,000 from Great West Equipment to provide simulation equipment for new Heavy Equipment Operator training programs. The machine simulator, which provides hand-eye coordination exercises and helps develop muscle memory for basic machine tasks, is also used as an assessment tool for those who are applying to enter the program. Simulators provide a safe way to train students in equipment operation while reducing maintenance costs.
• Okanagan College invested in a Virtual Reality Paint simulator that has proved to be a great asset in training Automotive Refinishing Technicians to be more productive and material conscious. With the paint trainer, students aim a virtual paint gun at a white screen while a computer records the speed, amount and coverage of paint.
Introduction of training models that break down barriers to accessing trades training by bringing training opportunities to apprentices in remote areas across BC.
• Thompson Rivers University (TRU) has a 53-foot custom-built long-box trailer with pull-out sides that is equipped to hold 12 Welding stations. Hauled by a semitruck and fully self-contained with its own generator, the unit can run for up to a month in a remote area on its own fuel. By running two classes at the same time (e.g., an 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. class and a 3:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. class), the unit could accommodate up to 48 students per year.
• Nicola Valley Institute of Technology’s mobile unit, which has operated for the past 4.5 years, consists of two 53-foot custom-built long-box trailers hauled by two semi-trucks. The unit provides 1,100 square feet of training space and enough room for 12 teaching stations. The mobile unit is used to provide Introductory Bridging to Trades training exclusively to First Nations communities throughout the Nicola Valley region and across BC. The mobile program, which enables Aboriginal participants to explore and select an apprenticeship trade for further training, consists of essential skills and upgrading assessments, as well as 12 weeks of classroom and practical handson experience.
• Okanagan College’s Foundation programs in Electrical, Plumbing and Welding rotate through the communities of Penticton, Vernon and Salmon Arm using equipment loaded into a container. Each location hosts the program for six months. Prior to seeking funding for permanent programs, the model is being used to test sustainability for training delivery outcomes in a new location.
• The Christian Labour Association of Canada created a virtual classroom system in order to bring training to remote areas and to First Nations across BC. Through the training centre, students at remote job sites and in communities across BC are linked to instructors at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) using a combination of GoToMeeting, Skype and online learning with recording capabilities. In partnership with Ledcor, TRU used the system to teach Construction Craft Worker skills to Haisla First Nations students at a Chevron site in Kitimat. The theory portion of technical training was delivered online at the work site each morning over four weeks, with students returning to work each afternoon. Following the theory portion, a TRU instructor delivered the practical training component at the work site.
• BC Hydro partnered with Thompson Rivers University (TRU), a BC Hydro educational partner, to provide mobile Welding training to supplement Millwright and Machinist programs. TRU sends a mobile welding vehicle and instructor to one of the remote work sites to deliver practical training.
Offer programs to apprentices that build upon essential skills and cultural knowledge to support employment success and retention.
• Okanagan College delivers Essential Skills upgrading training to students from the Penticton Indian Band prior to their entry into Residential Construction Program. The program supports improved student outcomes and employability for First Nations students.
Increase the availability of resources through innovative partnerships between institutions, training providers, industry, employers, charities and communities.
• Okanagan College students in Carpentry Foundation move from the classroom to the job site to participate in building projects through the Home for Learning program in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, Salmon Arm, or Revelstoke. At the outset of the program, the Home for Learning partnership only built homes to be sold, with proceeds given back to the College Foundation. However, at one point, the College and its partners were left with an unsold house for a number of years, so the model was changed to include not-for-profit projects benefiting charitable groups such as daycare facilities, women’s shelters, and Habitat for Humanity.
• Through Coldstream Truck Parts, the Salt family has donated a number of vehicles and parts to Okanagan College. Most recently, the family-owned company donated a Caterpillar ITI8F front-end loader worth approximately $60,000. This provides students in the Heavy Duty Mechanics program with hands-on training experience on a common piece of equipment in the industry. The motivation for donating the loader was simple: the family believes that the community needs to support up-and-coming tradespeople.
• Through a partnership with Northern Lights College, Okanagan College was able to bring Aircraft Maintenance Training to the Okanagan region. Northern Lights College delivers the first 48 weeks of this 62-week program at the Okanagan College Aerospace Campus in Vernon, with the remaining 14 weeks taking place at Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek. Graduates are granted a diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering from Northern Lights College. Okanagan College invested approximately $300,000 to construct the Aerospace Campus, and continues to supply student recruiting and administration. Northern Lights College contributes their Transport Canada Approved program along with curriculum and staff. Vernon students have a guaranteed housing at the Northern Lights College apartment complex on campus.
• Okanagan College formed a partnership with Taylor Pro Training, a leader in truck driver training, to offer Class 1 Truck Driver training and Heavy Equipment Operator training. Although the driving school is located in Kelowna, as is the main Okanagan College campus, Taylor Pro delivers training with their equipment and instructors at Okanagan College campuses throughout the region, including Penticton, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke and Vernon.
In 2014–15, ITA and government collected almost 100 examples of innovative practices already in use in the BC trades training system, all of which help to improve trades training outcomes. There is substantive work underway in all regions of the province to improve trades training outcomes in the areas of partnerships, regional access, flexible delivery, and student supports. Below are a few examples of these innovative practices taking place in Central BC. You can read this region's innovation inventory report here.