Algonquin will be able to put a dent in a large wait list for trade apprenticeship programs thanks to $4.6 million in Apprenticeship Enhancement Funding from the province.
Two electrical labs and one welding lab will be built from the funding, which was announced by Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli on March 17.
The electrical labs will be built in Algonquin’s Centre for Construction Excellence.
“There are more electrical apprentices in Ontario than any other apprenticeship,” said Shaun Barr, the Academic Chair of Construction Trades and Building Systems at Algonquin. “We had a wait list of 80-100 intermediate apprentices every term. (The labs) will allow us to put more through.”
Barr plans to consider student and faculty feedback for the labs, which will begin construction this summer.
“It’s hard to keep up in the electrical sector because it changes so fast,” said Barr. “We’ve got excellent facilities here but you can always be better.”
Former electrical engineering student Jeffrey Bennett had mostly positive things to say about his experiences in the current lab. Bennett liked his instructors and the trade-focused atmosphere of the ACCE building, but he would have liked to work with better equipment.
According to Barr, however, the new labs will have “state of the art” equipment, including program logical controllers.
The welding lab will be in the school’s automotive building.
“The demand in the industry is there,” said Jeff Ross, the program coordinator of welding and fabrication techniques. “We have well over 250 people on the wait list.”
Ross hopes that the new lab will give him the opportunity to expand the depth in which he teaches welding.
“There’s a welding component in each apprenticeship,” said Barr. “Our welding lab is just overrun.”
While announcing the funding in the ACCE, Chiarelli said that he hopes that the funding will “help support the almost one in five new jobs in the province that is expected to be created in the trades in the coming decade.”