Tévis Chevigny (left) and Travis Hartley, electrical apprentices at D&S Electric in Williams Lake, would like the option to complete their educations in Williams Lake. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Business owner advocates for more trades training in Williams Lake

Kim Preeper is struggling to keep apprentices because they have to go away for school.

The owner of an electrical company in Williams Lake is calling for more local trades training opportunities.

Kimberley Preeper of D&S Electric said apprentices are leaving the community to complete their training requirements. One of her apprentices applied for his second year at TRU Williams Lake and secured a spot, only to learn two weeks prior to the start date the course was not going ahead and he would have to go to Kamloops.

“Youth in the community cannot afford to maintain two places of residency,” Preeper said. “Our trade workers have one choice, to put off school and remain in the Cariboo or relocate to centres such as Prince George, Kamloops or further south.”

Preeper’s apprentices Tévis Chevigny, 19, and Travis Hartley, 22, told the Tribune they would prefer to complete their education in Williams Lake.

Hartley is originally from Quesnel and did his first year of the electrical program in Prince George, before he was hired by D&S Electric.

He had applied to take his second year in Williams Lake, but learned two weeks before the course was supposed to begin that it had been cancelled and if he wanted to take the course now he would have to go to Kamloops, which he will be doing in March 2018.

Chevigny took his first two years of the program in Kamloops, but said he would like to take his third year in Williams Lake but it isn’t an option.

Preeper said she’s been pushing for TRU to offer third and fourth year in Williams Lake for a long time.

“We have another apprentice doing his third year, but he had to go to Kamloops and when he went to do his second year in 2016 here he was told a few weeks before that it was cancelled because there weren’t enough students.”

Responding to Preeper’s concerns, TRU Williams Lake campus executive director Dr. Ray Sanders said TRU Williams Lake is a community-focused and driven post-secondary institution.

”We strive to serve the Williams Lake community as best we can within our own funding and enrolment limitations,” he told the Tribune.

Read More:Enrolment numbers up at TRU Williams Lake

Preeper has five apprentices in her company and said she plans and co-ordinates accordingly so they are not all going to school at the same time.

“I constantly try and keep them, but when they are leaving and they don’t come back, how can we continue to support them,” she said. “It’s difficult, because we can’t grow unless we have the apprentices. I still have journeymen, we have safety training, and that’s all done online because it’s not offered here.”

Williams Lake is a good central location for people to study trades, Hartley said.

“If we did have more available here I think people would like that option, rather than having to go on a wait list to go somewhere else,” he noted.

Preeper has created an online survey about trades training that has been completed by 27 people so far.

The results show that only 29.63 per cent of respondents are able to complete all the required training in one location.

“If there are not enough people to fill a classroom here, why aren’t we looking at the options of virtual classrooms,” Preeper said. “Two of us here got our estimating certificates that way.”

Hartley and Chevigny said the electrical program is 90 per cent theory for the most part.

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