The shipbuilding industry got a double dose of good news Tuesday after a marine training centre opened in Esquimalt and Camosun College got a $2.56-million injection of federal funds to increase the ranks of trades workers.
Lynne Yelich, federal Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, said the money is for equipment and electrical service for the new Marine, Aerospace and Resource Industry Centre for Training and Technology Support, part of Camosun College’s new Trades Education and Innovation Facility.
Another 430 trades students will graduate within five years from the college, adding to the 2,000 marine workers now on the south Island. “These graduates will have the skills to pursue a career in valuable trades,” Yelich said.
Federal money is also going to expand and upgrade Camosun’s technology access centre which helps industries adopt and commercialize technology.
Wärtsilä, a Finnish company specializing in equipment for marine and energy uses, has donated a marine engine to Camosun for student training.
The engine is worth about $620,000, said Mark Keneford of Wärtsilä Canada. It is used in a variety of vessels, including tugs, navy and coast guard vessels and research ships.
B.C. earlier announced $30 million to expand the trades training centre, including educating marine workers, at Camosun’s Interurban campus.
The shipbuilding industry celebrated in 2011 when North Vancouver’s Seaspan Marine Corp. won the right to negotiate for $8 billion worth of non-combat federal vessels. The expected construction is anticipated to deliver long-term stability and security to the industry and its workers.
Tuesday also marked the official opening of the Industrial Marine Training and Applied Research Centre in Esquimalt.
The 4,000 square foot centre will serve both trades and executive-level workers. It will offer everything from introductory classes in marine work and classrooms for apprentices working at the neighbouring Esquimalt Graving Dock to professional development in areas such as estimating and project management. The centre is working with existing training institutions to plan for current and future demands in the marine industry and will also help introduce new technologies and processes.
Headed by Alex Rueben, the centre was supported by the private and public sectors, including $1 million in federal funds and $550,000 from B.C. for curriculum development.
Malcolm Barker of Victoria Shipyards worked with Rueben and others to see the centre established.
Only a few years ago, shipbuilding was called a sunset industry, but it is now in a strong position for the future, he said.
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