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Mobile trades training unit provides unique learning opportunities for northwest BC students

The province's only state-of-the-art mobile trades training facility is helping Northwest Community College teach trades courses in communities usually out of reach. For the first time, Northwest Community College has the opportunity to offer trades training courses in some of the region's smaller communities. Using Trade Routes, a unique $1.5 million mobile training unit provided by BC's Ministry of Development, the College is offering apprenticeship programs in New Aiyansh in February and March; in Houston in April and June; and on Haida Gwaii in July and August. Although NWCC already offers educational programs in these communities, trades programs are typically unavailable due to a lack of facilities and equipment. "Trade Routes allows the College to instruct students who may have always wanted to learn a trade but never had the opportunity to pursue their goals," explains NWCC Trades Coordinator Brian Badge. "This facility was created to reach learners in remote areas. It brings training programs to the community rather than the community to the program, making learning accessible to everyone in the province." The government purchased Trade Routes to provide exploratory and apprenticeship trades training, and journeyperson upgrading in rural and Aboriginal communities in northern BC. The 53-foot-long trailer is a self-contained classroom on wheels, which can accommodate 12 students per session. The unit features welding gear, drill presses and a variety of other equipment and tools which enables hands-on learning in a variety of trades such as electrical, welding, millwright and plumbing. "Trade Routes is an innovative way to increase the skill level in our region and provide training and employment opportunities to those living in rural areas," said Badge. "All of Canada is experiencing a shortage of skilled trade workers. It's especially important to expose learners to the many opportunities available in the trades," added NWCC President Stephanie Forsyth. "Careers in trades are challenging, rewarding and well-paid, and innumerable positions are waiting for successful graduates to fill them. Over the past three years, Northwest Community College has greatly expanded the number of trades programs in the northwest with the help of the Industry Training Authority, industry and school and community partnerships. Trades Routes is a welcome addition to the efforts." Though the mobile trades training unit has been on display in northwest BC before, this is the first time NWCC has had the opportunity to use the unit for training. The facility is being shared among post-secondary institutions within northern BC.

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