Skip to content

BCIT bestowed $5.5M for accessible high-school trades program

The Burnaby post-secondary is set to help roughly 400 students over the next seven years train for in-demand jobs across B.C.
Representatives from BCIT, Seaspan, B.C. government, The Washington Companies, and the Vancouver, Surrey, Coquitlam, and Maple Ridge school districts were on hand for the unveiling of a $5.5-million donation to the Burnaby post-secondary on Oct. 13, 2023.

BCIT has received a seven-figure donation to deliver trades training to high school students across Metro Vancouver.

On Oct. 13, a total funding of $5.527 million was given to the Burnaby post-secondary from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation in conjunction with Seaspan and South Railway of BC.

The money will be turned into a program for youth to learn trades skills like piping, electrical, metal fabrication and marine fitting — all considered in-demand jobs across the province.

Roughly 400 Grade 11 and 12 students are expected to participate in the new programs over the next seven years, a news release stated.

will directly impact 400 high school students over the next seven years, and those completing the program will be able to begin work as apprentices in highly sought-after trades within the construction and marine sectors.

"As the largest trades training provider in Western Canada, with programs in construction, mechanical, and transportation trades, BCIT provides opportunities to meet the learning needs of workers and the workforce of the employer," said BCIT president Dr. Jeff Zabudsky, noting successful program grads will have the training to be hired right away as apprentices in their fields.

"The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Trades Foundation for Youth Program – Building Futures Together Initiative builds on BCIT's collaborative relationships with K-12 school districts, helping us to ensure that young people gain the valuable skills training and education in the trades."

The Trades Foundation for Youth Program, according to its description, is also an accessible learning opportunity for those pursuing a trades career from under-represented communities, newcomers to B.C., low-income families and those facing educational barriers.

"The partnership with BCIT will remove barriers to trades training and help hundreds of young minds gain valuable employment skills, explore the apprenticeship learning pathway and gain an earlier introduction to Red Seal trades certification," added Mark Lamarre, president and CEO of Washington Companies.

About Trades Foundation for Youth

BCIT's next steps for the program will be to help renovate high school classrooms, update their equipment and provide instructors.

As well, the money will be used to cover safety gear, tools, textbooks and necessary transportation costs.

Trades Foundation for Youth will offer classroom and hands-on experiences through the following curriculum:

  • Two 28‐week courses in piping
  • A multi-week course in electrical
  • Supports for an existing at‐risk Metal Fabrication program
  • Three‐week Marine Fitter Level 1 course

Renovations and preparations are expected to begins during the current school year (2023-24).